Blagojevich Brought to Justice

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The prosecutors bore in on two specific targets whom Blagojevich was seeking to shakedown: President Obama’s good friend and confidant Valerie Jarrett and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. The evidence regarding Jackson, son of former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, was overwhelming against the former governor. Recordings revealed several attempts to get a rich backer of Jackson, an Indian businessman named Raghu Nayak, to hold private fundraisers for Blagojevich in exchange for giving the congressman the Senate seat. The attempts to realize this scheme continued right up to the day that Blagojevich was arrested on December 9, 2008.

But the marquee testimony dealt with Blagojevich’s attempts to finagle a cabinet post, or lucrative union job, by holding up the Obama transition team over the president’s choice of Jarrett to take his seat.

There is no doubt that Obama wanted Jarrett for the seat. The question has always been how far the president was willing to go to get it for her. What the recordings reveal is that the Obama transition team sensed exactly what Blagojevich was selling and had minimal contact with him. No doubt the president and his chief transition aide at the time, Emanuel, both long-time players in the rough and tumble world of Chicago politics, knew the game Blagojevich was playing and further understood the legal ramifications involved.

In fact, Blagojevich was being so blatant about his pay for play schemes that Valerie Jarrett eventually asked President Obama to withdraw her name from consideration. Jarrett, too, was a veteran of the Chicago political scene and no doubt sensed danger in Blagojevich’s wheeling and dealing.

But that didn’t prevent Obama’s people from sending several go-betweens, including powerful SEIU union chief Tom Balanoff, to scout out the former governor and try to come to an agreement.

In a call to Balanoff, Blagojevich was recorded trying to get President Obama to give him a plush job with a non-profit union foundation after his term as governor was up. When it became clear that the president was not going to give him what he wanted — a cabinet post or a sinecure with a private foundation or company — Blagojevich’s frustration boiled over into an expletive-laced tirade, concluding with:

“[T]hey’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [expletive] them.”

The recorded conversation with Balanoff elicited this exchange between prosecutor Schar and Blagojevich:

Schar: “You tell Tom Balanoff you want $25 million [in the foundation’s fund and then a job there.]”
Blagojevich:”Possibly work there.”
Schar: “You wanted the money quickly?”
Blagojevich: “So I could fight for health care and join the fight.”

Eventually, Schar got Blagojevich to expose himself by asking, “Did you mean to communicate to Mr. Balanoff that you would give Jarrett the Senate seat if you got your funding for your 501c4?”

“No, I didn’t mean to do that,” Blagojevich said after being directed by the judge to answer the question.

No one believed him — especially the jury.

After the verdict was read, the jurors were unanimous in their belief that they had reached the right decision. One juror said, “He proved himself guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. He kept saying ‘Do it!’ ‘Push it!’  ‘Get it done!’ That’s where he crossed the line.”  Another juror mentioned how difficult it was to reach an agreement on many of the counts. “Many times, we had to keep re-voting,”  the juror said. Others commented on the difficulty of overlooking how personable Blagojevich could be, as the former governor turned on the charm on the witness stand. “We had to put aside whether we liked him or didn’t like him and just go by the evidence presented to us,” said one.

The Blagojevich odyssey is not quite over. No sentencing date has been set but US District Judge James Zagel has ordered Blagojevich not to leave Northern Illinois. And there will be the inevitable appeals by the former governor’s defense team.

Blagojevich himself said he was “stunned” by his conviction. Herein lies the real Shakespearean tragedy of the disgraced governor’s life and times. For the classical tragic figures — Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear — it was a combination of their flaws as human beings and their inability to recognize that those flaws would lead to their own destruction, which gave their characters pathos and supplied a sense of impending doom that surrounded them.

For the disgraced ex-governor — arrested, impeached, convicted, tried twice, and now found guilty on 17 counts of political malfeasance and corruption — there will be no second act.

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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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