Earlier today Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested for what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald called a “political corruption crime spree” that resulted in wide ranging criminal conspiracies that were designed to bring financial gain to the Governor and his wife, Patricia Blagojevich. One charge of particular interest was that the Governor attempted to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
He made no attempt at disparages in his motives and conditions when he told the Obama administration he wanted something big in return for naming the President-elect’s chosen candidate to fill his vacant U.S. Senate seat. Under the state’s law the governor has the authority to appoint replacements.
The FBI says it has taped conversations which Blagojevich can be heard complaining that the Obama advisers involved were telling him that he had to “suck it up . . . and give this mother—-er [the President-elect]] his senator. F— him. For nothing? F— him.”
Fitzgerald stated Tuesday that “there is no allegation in the complaint that the president-elect was aware of it and that is all I can say,” according to ABCNews.com.
However, the first signs of disconnect within the Obama camp are showing otherwise. President-elect Obama spoke earlier today and stated that he had no contact with governor and was unaware of his dealings. David Axlerod, Obama’s senior adviser, said something entirely different in that Obama had spoken with the governor and was active in the process over his vacant Senate seat, but later reversed his statement and said they never talked about it.
At any rate, the 76-page indictment case refers to Obama and his administration as much as 40 times.
How much did Obama know?
In the report, Blagojevich and Harris spoke with an unidentified adviser believed to be part of Obama’s transition team on November 7. He stated his desire to be appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services by Obama in exchange for appointing Obama’s #1 candidate. His motivation was that he was suffering financially and according to the indictment plainly stated, “I want to make money.”
Secondly, there was also an alleged three-way deal that would again benefit the governor while placating the Obama camp. The deal involved Blagojevich appointing Obama’s said candidate, and in return Obama would use his powers to appoint Blagojevich to SEIU appointment that heads a large labor organization. Obama’s adviser sitting in on the meeting apparently liked the idea of a three-way deal.
Thirdly, the governor realized that he could be operating at a disadvantage during the negotiations because of the ongoing investigation on him. He was prepared to play hardball with the Obama camp and appoint his own candidate to fill the seat before he would give into Obama’s wishes without anything in return. He made it clear that he would not agree to Obama’s candidate without a quid pro quo from the White House. Again, the governor shamelessly pointed to financial gain as his motivations telling Obama’s unidentified advisor he wanted to make $250,000 to $300,000 annually.
Throughout the recordings, Blagojevich was confident he would get something from the Obama administration in exchange for the Senate seat.
There is no proof that has surfaced showing anyone inside the immediate Obama camp was aware of the unlawful actions and negotiations between Blagojevich, Harris, and the unidentified Obama adviser. Still, there was at least some knowledge by people in the Obama camp that was at least aware of what Blagojevich was trying accomplish by using Obama’s desire to name his successor and his power as President. That will, of course, raise some ugly questions and potential legal issues for the Obama administration, especially if Blagojevich comes forth with information and the unknown advisers and candidate’s identities surface, which they surely will.
As of now, however, such allegations are circumstantial and there is no proof that Obama was directly related in the negotiations.
But, given that Obama and Blagojevich frequent the same circles and have been associated with the same people in the past; plus, Obama enthusiastically supported the governor for his reelection bid, leaves more to be desired than his most recent remarks on Blagojevich’s arrest.