Blagojevich Brought to Justice

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Rod Blagojevich, the impeached former governor of Illinois, was found guilty on Monday of 17 counts of wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery and conspiracy. Most of the charges related to his desire to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama in exchange for campaign contributions. The disgraced governor’s conviction closes the book on another sad chapter of sleaze and corruption in Illinois politics. It also puts to rest a troublesome issue that had been dogging the Obama administration for more than two years, as questions about the involvement of the president’s transition team in Blagojevich’s schemes have now been laid to rest.

The jury acquitted the former governor on one count and was unable to reach a verdict on another count of trying to shakedown a construction executive. Jury members were also deadlocked on one count relating to a shakedown of former Congressman, now Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel. While most of the counts involved Obama’s vacated Senate seat, Blagojevich was also convicted on two separate charges of trying to shake down Illinois businessmen by granting them favors in return for cash.

Blagojevich is the 4th governor since 1973 to be convicted of a felony. The state has also seen an incredible run of other politicians and state officials being marched off to jail. At least 79 Illinois public officials have been convicted of wrongdoing since 1972, including now 4 governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three Chicago city officials, 27 Chicago aldermen, 19 Cook County judges, and seven other Cook County officials.

The unifying factor in the overwhelming majority of these cases was petty, personal monetary aggrandizement. Payoffs to judges for lenient sentences or even acquittals, kickbacks to aldermen, illegal campaign contributions, cash in shoeboxes, “pay to play” payoffs, contracts to cronies — the endless, ridiculous, maddening, depressing litany of abuses Illinois taxpayers have had to endure for most of the 20th century and beyond have made the state a laughingstock.

So it was with the Blagojevich caper. This was the second trial of the former governor in less than a year. The first trial ended ignominiously for the prosecution when the jury could come to an agreement on only 1 of 25 counts in the indictment, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. A review of that trial by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office discovered that the jurors were confused by the numerous threads of wrongdoing by Blagojevich, including a prosecutorial effort to convict the former governor on several counts of racketeering. Also, Blagojevich’s brother Robert stood trial at the same time on 4 other corruption charges on which the jury could not agree.

For the second trial, the prosecutors streamlined the charges, concentrating on the “pay for play” schemes of Blagojevich to sell Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for either a cabinet post in the president’s administration, or hefty campaign contributions from other players. They also declined to retry Robert Blagojevich and dropped the racketeering complaints altogether.

Unlike his trial last summer, Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense. For seven dramatic days, Blagojevich held the court spellbound as he mounted a spirited defense of his actions in the Obama Senate seat controversy. He endured 3 days of grilling by Assistant US Attorney Reid Schar, who questioned his honesty, his motives, and his character.

The governor’s defense — that he was only doing what all other politicians do in the course of their duties — fell flat with the jury. What he referred to as “horse trading” turned out to be far more than simple political back-scratching. Secret recordings made by Fitzgerald’s office prove that time and again, Blagojevich discussed either large campaign contributions or a lucrative job offer for himself in exchange for appointing a favored politician to the Senate seat.

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  • Chezwick_mac

    This kind of corruption is part and parcel of the one-party state. Even a poor choice is better than no choice at all…just ask those who once lived behind the Iron Curtain…or in Illinois.

  • RB Goon

    Democrat= Criminal

  • kafir4life

    I wonder if he'll try to bring Barry down now, or will there be an accident?

    • Steve Chavez

      I thought the same thing. The Chicago Mob surely wants to silence Blago and it's just a question of before he enters prison or inside prison since, like the article states, there are plenty of Chicago mobsters in prison already! He should be put under house arrest and protected.

      If Blago feels threatened, he may defect to Cuba. Oops, no way, that's Obama's Paradise and he still has his Che T-shirt. How about Pakistan? Blago Bin Laden?

  • Steve Chavez

    Sounds to me like Obama, Jarrett, and Emmanuel WERE TIPPED OFF! Actions, like removing Jarrett's name, sudden silence and no direct contact surely are signs that they were tipped off by a DEMOCRAT FBI investigator!

    Do you actually think Big Mouth Blago is going to go down quietly? This man is a ticking time bomb and he will reveal all including the real contacts with Obama's Mob Mafia up until the Tip-off! Blago also knows inside info on Obama, and the Mob Mafia, before he became President.

    Don't you think Blago asked himself, or was asked, "what if Obama wins" at least two years before the election? Wheeling and dealing, Chicago style, had to be taking place long before the FBI felt it was necessary to wiretap him! WHAT WAS SAID BACK THEN? That, my friends, is Blago's trump card! HE WILL NOT GO DOWN ALONE!

  • Spider

    Wasn't BHO the Mus-lim Com-munist Kenyan also from Ilinois ??

    • tanstaafl

      Yep, just another fish in the fish bowl.

  • tagalog

    There are, of course, far too many politicians like Blagojevich, and, interestingly enough, these are the people that far too many voters want to have more and more power over the things we do.

  • sedoanman

    "Blagojevich is the 4th governor since 1973 to be convicted of a felony. The state has also seen an incredible run of other politicians and state officials being marched off to jail. …"

    Maybe their representatives and senators should not be allowed to vote in their respective houses until the state cleans up its act.

  • flyingtiger

    This article has it all wrong. Blago tried to reform the state, and for that he was crushed. For many people in Illinois, the Blago years are the golden age of this state. Taxes were low, and the government worked. Now taxes are rising out of sight, driving the lawbidding taxpayers out of the state. (I hope to leave soon.)
    If he was guilty, why wasn't his wife and brother in the dock with him? According to the evidence, they are more guilty than he he is.
    Steve Chavez is right,, Jarrett, Emmanuel, and BHO were tipped off. Most likely by Patrick Fritzgerald AKA The Shield of Daley, and the best friend organized crime ever had.
    Organized crime in Chicago could be crushed easily. Just arrest the Miegs Field Wreckers and listen to them sing.
    This is obviously more complex issue than you imagine.

    • coyote3

      "If he was guilty…." ? He is guilty, he has been convicted. That is the definition of guilty.

      • tagalog

        Yes, the use of language was a bit sloppy, although it's a commonly-shared sloppiness. I'm sure what the poster meant was that Blagojevich, though found guilty, might still be innocent of the crimes he was convicted of.

        Based on the news reports (a shaky basis, I admit), it doesn't seem like he's innocent, but that's just my opinion. "God sees the truth, but waits."

  • RobertPinkerton

    Let it not be forgotten that, while he was governor of Illinois, Blagojevich was one of the most prominent gun-HATERS in this nountry's political life. That makes his downfall in disgrace especially sweet.

  • BLJ

    I moved to Illinois in 1989. I was raised in a red state. Only stayed here because of my wife.

    Illinois (mainly Cook County) is the most corrupt state I have ever seen. The unions control things here as well as the Dem Machine of which Comrade O cut his teeth on. I have never seen so many stupid voters in my life.

    Blago is a scumbag, but the reason he went down is because he had the balls to take on Jesse Jackson Jr which would end up leading to Comarde O and the rest of his crooked IL friends. This is a big no-no here and now Blago gets striped curtains.

    Richie Daley ran a corrupt machine for years and he comes out unscathed. No wonder Comrade O is making Chicago his re-election HQ's.

  • Fred Dawes

    If anyone has it coming its this monkey fool one of obama really good butt boy. ILLINOIS/CHICAGO Is a joke it is the mexico city system in the USA, The next mexico city is L.A.

  • FPM.COMsubscriber

    Blagojevich is the current 'sacrificial lamb' for the greater controlling corrupt system. From time to time, there must be a scapegoat (of sorts) to "keep propriety afloat" .

  • gatekeeper96740

    Media Matters should be audited. There‘s a website up where you can file a complaint with the IRS about Media Matters’ tax exempt status:

  • jemc50

    One corrupt politician on the way to jail, lots more to go.

  • sedoanman

    Being found guilty is not the same as being brought to justice which won't happen until he's served his sentence out, and even then it might not be long enough to be considered "justice".

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