DOCUMENT: Investigation

Obama Senate Seat For Sale?

Feds: Blagojevich saw Obama's vacated job as a 'valuable thing'

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Obama Senate Seat For Sale?

DECEMBER 9--The criminal complaint filed today against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich contains a remarkable section detailing the Democratic politician's alleged attempt to cash in on his ability to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

Attached to the U.S. District Court complaint is an FBI affidavit, excerpted here, alleging that Blagojevich was caught on wiretaps noting that the Senate seat 'is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing.' He was also recorded saying that unless 'I get something real good,' he would appoint himself to the vacancy. 'I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself.'

According to surreptitiously recorded conversations, Blagojevich spoke with associates about the possibility of trading the Senate post for either an ambassadorship or a Cabinet post. The politician, according to the affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Daniel Cain, 'analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams.'

During a wiretapped November 10 call, a frustrated and financially strapped Blagojevich referred to Obama as a 'motherfucker' and said that he would not appoint an ally of the President-elect to the Senate vacancy if 'I don't get anything.' Referring to Obama, Blagojevich exclaimed, 'Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.'

In a November 11 conversation, Blagojevich remarked that he knew Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett, a longtime confidante, to succeed him, 'but they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.'

Blagojevich, 51, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested this morning on political corruption charges.

While the affidavit does not specifically name the six prospective Senate candidates discussed by Blagojevic, Harris, and the governor's aides, it appears that several are easily identified. 'Senate Candidate 1' is Jarrett. 'Senate Candidate 2' is Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Emil Jones, an Illinois state legislator, is 'Senate Candidate 5.' [The Chicago Tribune and ABC News are reporting that 'Senate Candidate 5' is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.] And 'Senate Candidate 6' appears to be J.P. Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businessman.

Additionally, Rahm Emanuel, the incoming White House chief of staff, is referred to in the affidavit as 'President-elect Advisor.' (21 pages)

Comments (1)

The trial has finished for Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. After two weeks of deliberation, the grand jury returned only a single guilty verdict. Blagojevich was only convicted of one count of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. There hasn’t been sentencing yet, although five years might be given because of the false statements the government received from him. Federal prosecutors have already announced they fully intend to re-try Blagojevich.