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  1. #1
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    Talking ILLINOIS Governor arrested on corruption charges

    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on federal charges that accuse him of trying to benefit from his ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate.

    A 76-page FBI affidavit says the 51-year-old Democrat was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

    The affidavit contends Blagojevich discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions. It also says Blagojevich talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director's fees.

    The affidavit also quotes Blagojevich as saying "I want to make money" in one conversation.

    John Harris, the governor's chief of staff, was also charged, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

    Three-year probe
    Federal prosecutors have investigated Blagojevich's administration for at least three years. The governor has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

    Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

    The Department of Justice alleges that in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:

    a substantial salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions;
    placing his wife on paid corporate boards where he speculated she might garner as much as $150,000 a year;
    promises of campaign funds — including cash up front;
    a cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
    Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said the charges "allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator".

    Among those being considered for the post include U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson Jr.

    According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

    Operation Board Games
    Corruption in the Blagojevich administration has been the focus of a federal Operation Board Games involving an alleged $7 million scheme aimed at squeezing kickbacks out of companies seeking business from the state. Federal prosecutors have acknowledged they're also investigating "serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" under Blagojevich.

    Political fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who raised money for the campaigns of both Blagojevich and Obama, is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of fraud and other charges.

    Blagojevich's chief fundraiser, Christopher G. Kelly, is due to stand trial early next year on charges of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service.

    According to Tuesday's complaint, Blagojevich schemed with Rezko, millionaire-fundraiser turned federal witness Stuart Levine and others to get financial benefits for himself and his campaign committee.

    Federal prosecutors said Blagojevich and the chairman of his campaign committee have been speeding up corrupt fundraising activities in the last month to get as much money as possible before the end of the year when a new law would curtail his ability to raise contributions from companies with state contracts worth more than $50,000.

    According to the affidavit, agents learned Blagojevich was seeking $2.5 million in campaign contributions by the end of the year, with a large part allegedly to come from companies and individuals who have gotten state contracts or appointments.

    A would-be reformer
    Blagojevich took the chief executive's office in 2003 as a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan's mess.

    Ryan, a Republican, is serving a 6-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges. A decade-long investigation began with the sale of driver's licenses for bribes and led to the conviction of dozens of people who worked for Ryan when he was secretary of state and governor.

    FBI spokesman Frank Bochte said federal agents arrested the governor and Harris simultaneously at their homes at 6:15 a.m. and took them to the Chicago FBI headquarters.

    Bochte said he did not know if either man was handcuffed or if the governor's family was their North Side home at the time of his arrest. He did say Blagojevich and Harris both were given time to get dressed before being taken to the headquarters.

    He also did not have any details about Blagojevich's arrest, only that he was cooperative with federal agents.

    "It was a very calm setting," he said.

    The governor was to appear later Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan to answer the charges.

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    I've never followed Chicago politics so seeing this guy in action is a jaw dropping moment for me!

    Link to the charges: Criminal Complaint again Governor Blagojevich

    He definately does not like Obama as he called him a MF'er and F him and F that! Even his wife is corrupt.
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