Thursday, December 11, 2008

BLAGO BEAT

Russell Goldman, ABC - From the federal complaint, the picture that emerges is of a conniving, delusional and combative man. Blagojevich's wife, Patricia, mentioned repeatedly in the complaint but not charged with a crime, has been compared to Lady Macbeth, for the way she reportedly attacked her husband's enemies and supported his schemes. . .

Milorad "Rod" Blagojevich was born on the Northwest Side of Chicago in 1956, the son of a Yugoslavian immigrant steelworker. The young Blagojevich was an admittedly mediocre student, who delivered pizzas and shined shoes to help the family make ends meet.


Addressing a group of high school students in 2006, Blagojevich called the D he received in high school algebra "a classic case of grade inflation."

A high school basketball player and Elvis Presley fan, Blagojevich trained for a time as a teenager to be a Golden Gloves boxer. "He wasn't a very good boxer, but he liked to fight," said Pat LaCassa, a boxing trainer who coached Blagojevich in the 1970sz

"He likes to fight," said Brandon Phelps, a state representative from southern Illinois. "There's an arrogance about him, no doubt. I always got the sense that he thought, 'by golly, I'm the governor, you should do as I say.'". . . . . .

The first lady was. . . under investigation for her real estate dealings with another Blagojevich friend, convicted slumlord Tony Rezko. In 2005, according to The Associated Press, she received nearly $50,000 from a real estate deal three years earlier involving Rezko. In June, Rezko was convicted of using clout with the Blagojevich administration to help launch a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.

According to the complaint against the governor, Patricia Blagojevich, 43, is overheard in the background of a taped phone conversation cursing and suggesting that some Chicago Tribune editors should be fired in exchange for state assistance with selling Wrigley Field. The the home of the Cubs baseball team was owned by the paper's parent company.

"Hold up that [expletive] Cubs [expletive]," she says as her husband is talking on the telephone. "[Expletive] them."

She is also heard, according to the complaint, suggesting that a deal to sell Obama's Senate seat should include a seat on a corporate board for her.

James Taranto, Wall Street Journal - Even if Obama did talk to Blagojevich about the Senate appointment, there is no reason to think this would incriminate the president-elect. In fact, statements attributed to the governor in the criminal complaint make clear, in rather vivid language, that he was frustrated by Obama's refusal to play ball and reward Blagojevich for appointing "Senate Candidate 1":

Rod Blagojevich said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "m-----f---er [the President-elect] his senator. F--- him. For nothing? F--- him." . . .

This conversation is alleged to have taken place on Nov. 10. Unless Blagojevich subsequently charmed Obama and his representatives into cooperating, Jim Lindgren would seem to have it right: "If true, these allegations hint that Obama or his transition team were victims of an extortion/bribery attempt"

Does that rule out the possibility that Axelrod is now lying in order to cover up communications between Obama and Blagojevich? Not necessarily. Being a victim of a crime or other offense can, after all, be embarrassing. Wouldn't it be ironic if Obama got caught up in scandal by trying to conceal facts that were not the least bit incriminating, merely for the sake of pride?

Pro Publica - Sheldon Sorosky, who is representing Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in his federal corruption case, also currently serves as the chairman of a state criminal justice agency. Blagojevich appointed Sorosky to the non-paid position in 2003. Although Sorosky's term as chairman was supposed to expire in January 2007, he remains atop the board.

Steven Greenhouse, NY Times - The Service Employees International Union has long boasted that it is on the cutting edge of the labor movement. But it found itself badly embarrassed this week when it was linked by name to Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich's maneuvering to secure some financial gain from picking the next Senator from Illinois.

The federal criminal complaint filed against Mr. Blagojevich said his chief of staff, John Harris, had suggested to a service employees' official that the union should help make the governor the head of Change to Win, the federation of seven unions that broke away form the A.F.L.-C.I.O. The complaint said Mr. Blagojevich was seeking a position that paid $250,000 to $300,000 a year.

In exchange, the complaint strongly suggested, the service employees union and Change to Win would help persuade Mr. Blagojevich to name Valerie Jarrett, President-elect Barack Obama's first choice, as the state's new senator. And the union would get help from the Obama administration, presumably for its legislative agenda.

Washington Post - A footnote to the 76-page criminal complaint and affidavit charging Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) with soliciting bribes confirms what has long been rumored -- that a former longtime friend and fundraiser for President-elect Barack Obama is talking to federal prosecutors in hopes of a reduced sentence. Antoin "Tony" Rezko's offer to provide authorities with evidence of others' wrongdoing is "not complete," and prosecutors are working to corroborate the claims he has made so far, the footnote said. . .

Prosecutors depicted Rezko at trial as a fixer for Blagojevich and the man to see to secure a high-level appointment with the governor's administration. Rezko had been a longtime fundraiser for Blagojevich and other Illinois politicians, including Obama.

Obama was not implicated in the months-long trial, and he has said that Rezko sought no favors from him. At a news conference on Tuesday, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, went out of his way to dampen speculation about Obama.

"I should make clear, the complaint makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever," Fitzgerald said. "We make no allegations that he's aware of anything, and that's as simply as I can put it. . . . There's no reference in the complaint to any conversations involving the president-elect or indicating that the president-elect was aware of it. And that's all I can say."

Legal experts said it was unusual for a prosecutor to make such a blanket statement while an investigation was continuing.

"That carries a great deal of weight," said Jan Witold Baran, a Washington lawyer who represents politicians on ethical complaints and campaign finance matters. "It is really unusual for a U.S. attorney to say someone is not implicated. Could evidence pop up in the future to the contrary? Sure, it's possible. Is it likely? I think that, based on what he said yesterday, the answer is no," Baran added.

CBS, Chicago - Gov. Rod Blagojevich knew for months he was under investigation, so why was he caught on tape making so many incriminating statements? Some are wondering if there's something wrong with his mental acuity.. . . There is the serious question people like Marian Cassler of Chicago are asking: "When you know you're being watched, why would you do something like that? You have to have something wrong."

"Well, we think he's nuts, that he has some kind mental problem that he would have the audacity to do such a thing," said Chicago resident Meg Olsen. . .

Dr. Daniela Schreirer is a forensic psychologist at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and she does not see any sign of mental illness in the public Blagojevich, but believes he does have sociopathic traits.

"We're just talking about traits. We're not talking about full-blown diagnosis. But certainly, there's the same sense of entitlement, the same sense of thinking I am superior. I can do whatever I want. I am not going to be caught," Schreirer said.

Could a claim of a mental illness be the Blagojevich's best defense in court?

"There's a difference between being crazy and being legally insane," said CBS 2's Legal Analyst Irv Miller.

Miller says don't expect Blagojevich's attorneys to even try that defense.

Newsbusters - This is entering into the realm of the bizarre -- from the web site of KHQA TV. . .
KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.
That's fine, except for the fact that the KHQA story from November 8 -- three days later. It talked about the meeting in the past tense:
Now that Barack Obama will be moving to the White House, his seat in the U.S. Senate representing Illinois will have to be filled.

Obama met with Governor Rod Blagojevich earlier this week to discuss it. Illinois law states that the governor chooses that replacement. There's already been speculation about his selection. . . from Congressman Jesse Jackson, Junior to Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.
So KHQA is saying it "has no knowledge" that an Obama-Blagojevich meeting it thought in its November 5 story would occur actually did occur.

I suppose the station will also tell us at some point that it "has no knowledge" as to whether the meeting it definitively reported had occurred in its November 8 story really did occur.

2 Comments:

At December 11, 2008 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This thing is blown up way out of proportion. A podunk understaffed TV station 200 miles from Chicago hastily rewrites some wire copy and six weeks later it becomes a big stink. (I used to work in places like that. I've seen it happen.)

There's still a ton of unanswered questions about what Obama/his people discussed with Blagojevich/his people and when. But this is a wild goose chase.

 
At December 12, 2008 4:21 AM, Anonymous Mairead said...

I'm impressed (not favorably) about how carefully Obama is being protected. Why on Earth should we believe that Obama, who, as Sam has noted, was foisted on us by SOMEbody, is clean?

 

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