You want your Chicago-style politics? They don't come much more Chicago-style than this: Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was just arrested, along with his chief of staff, by FBI agents. How many corrupt things can one Governor do before a new ethics law takes effect at the beginning of next year? Blagojevich was apparently trying to set some sort of record. And Rezko's involved! And Tribune Co! Let's start with Rod's charming decision to sell the Senate seat vacated by squeaky clean president-elect Barack Obama!
At various times, in exchange for the Senate appointment, Blagojevich discussed obtaining:
A substantial salary for himself at a 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; and
A cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
Thankfully the feds have been wiretapping Blagojevich for a month or so. "I want to make money," Rod said to John Harris, his chief of staff.
You know who'll be thrilled to hear the news of Rod's arrest? The good people at the Chicago Tribune and the incompetent people at Tribune Co. Part of Blagojevich's brilliant money-making scheme involved withholding state aid to the ailing, now-bankrupt Tribune Co, unless they fired editorial board members critical of the governor. You know what is amazing? That after Rod talked to "Tribune Owner" and "Tribune Financial Advisor" regarding their attempt to offload the Chicago Cubs to the state, they called him back and promised to fire the deputy editoral page editor of the Tribune. Great fucking work, Sam Zell.
In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded. "Oh. That's fantastic." After further discussion, Blagojevich said, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."
In a further conversation on November 21, Harris told Blagojevich that he had singled out to Tribune Financial Advisor the Tribune's deputy editorial page editor, John McCormick, "as somebody who was the most biased and unfair." After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured Harris that the Tribune would be making changes affecting the editorial board, Blagojevich allegedly had a series of conversations with Chicago Cubs representatives regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field.
Barack Obama, wisely, distanced himself from Blagojevich during his run for the presidency. But the wonderful thing about the Chicago political machine is that basically no one elected to anything in that town is clean. Good thing for our President-elect that he won the election before Patrick Fitzgerald made his move.