A lot of people are obsessing over the fact that a sitting Governor of the state of Illinois has been arrested and indicted today. However, having grown up right across the border in Indiana, it’s not only NOT a surprise to me.
Frankly, I was wondering what was taking them so long. Apparently the answer was the sheer volume of evidence was slowing the Feds down . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Since the 1950’s, almost every single governor in the State of Illinois has been indicted and served time, with four exceptions. One was a lieutenant governor who succeeded his indicted governor, and didn;t have much time to do anything.
Only two governors were not indicted, accused of, or implicated in any wrongdoing since 1953 — both Republican, and the most notable of which was James “Big Jim” Thompson — the governor so straight-arrow, they named a Federal Building in downtown Chicago after him.
William G. Stratton January 12, 1953 to January 9, 1961 (R) Accused of Tax Evasion; never convicted.
Otto Kerner, Jr. January 9, 1961 to May 21, 1968 (D) Served 3 years in Federal prison for bribery, conspiracy, perjury.
Samuel H. Shapiro May 21, 1968 to January 13, 1969 (D) Gov Kerner’s Lt. Governor; served less than a year.
Richard Buell Ogilvie January 13, 1969 to January 8, 1973 (R) NO legal problems.
Daniel Walker January 8, 1973 to January 10, 1977 (D) Served seven years in Federal Prison for Savings & Loan improprieties.
James R. Thompson January 10, 1977 to January 14, 1991 (R) NO legal problems.
James Edgar January 14, 1991 to January 11, 1999 (R) Tenure tarnished by Mgmt Systems of Illinois (MSI) patronage scandal
George H. Ryan January 11, 1999 to January 13, 2003 (R) Currently serving 6 years in Federal Prison for corruption.
Rod R. Blagojevich January 13, 2003 to present . . . (D) Indicted Dec 9th, 2008
Some of these stories are so legendary they’re repeated frequently and fondly. For instance, Governor Otto Kerner was bribed in the form of stock in the Arlington Park Racetrack for choice racing dates and to get two expressway exits. The scandal came to light because the owner had deducted the value of the stock on her federal income tax returns under her own theory that bribery was an ordinary and necessary business expense in Illinois.
Heh. Welcome to Illinois; a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of the Chicago Machine.
From the Chicago Tribune this morning:
Illinois Gov. Blagojevich, chief of staff, arrested
By Jeff Coen, David Kidwell and Monique Garcia | 9:14 AM CST, December 9, 2008
A three-year federal corruption investigation of pay-to-play politics in Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration has expanded to include his impending selection of a new U.S. senator to succeed President-elect Barack Obama, the Tribune has learned.
“I should say if anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it,” he said. “I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously, and those who feel like they want to sneakily, and wear taping devices, I would remind them that it kind of smells like Nixon and Watergate.”
Unlike the recordings that the federal government has of Blagojevich, the tapes that led to President Richard Nixon’s 1974 resignation over the burglary of Democratic offices at the Watergate complex and the ensuing coverup were made by Nixon himself.
Blagojevich’s comments came amid increasing concern by Democrats that the governor’s pending appointment of a Senate successor may become politically tainted as a result of the investigations surrounding his administration. Federal investigators have been looking into allegations of corruption regarding state jobs, appointments and contracts in connection with Blagojevich’s prolific fundraising.
UPDATE: Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning.
Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to Frank Bochte of the FBI. Both were transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago.
In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.
Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.
Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.
“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.
“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”
What interests me in this whole mess is how quickly Prsident-elect Obama jumped up to deny any knowledge of this affair. Yeah, yeah, suuuuuure, your holiness . . .
Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama said he was unaware of the criminal investigation into an alleged attempt by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to trade an appointment for Obama’s Senate seat for financial gain.
“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so I was not aware of what was happening, ” Obama told reporters today in Chicago. “It’s a sad day for Illinois. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”
But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different. Axelrod said, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”
Of course, the Obama-oids are now saying Axlerod “mis-spoke” on Fox News last month.
Where the Chicago Machine is concerned, we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the corruption. If obama didn’t know about the Blagoyevitch corruption, that makes him either (a) stupid, or (b) a patsy.
Neither of which makes for a good President, does it?