I didn’t know much about Illinois Governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, but I’m getting a crash course.
Suddenly, today, (December 09/2008) the Illinois lawmaker, whose second four-year term ends in January 2011, was arrested – on corruption charges.
And he’s splashed all over the news!
There is the governor, at a press event just yesterday. Reporters asked Blagojevich if he thought it was possible he was being wiretapped. He replies that he has nothing to hide…and anybody who wants to can go ahead and tape his conversations!
Apparently unknown to Blagojevich, (but maybe not so unknown to that reporter) the FBI had been taping his conversations for three years!
According to news reports, the FBI is accusing Blagojevich and his chief of staff, (others are involved)…of two counts each of conspiring to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate replacement.
Officials allege “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.”
A reference to The Tribune Company, which publishes the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. Tribune filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Officials say Blagojevich threatened to withhold state assistance from the company…unless Tribune fired members of its editorial board, who had criticized the Illinois governor.
Blagojevich is allegedly on tape discussing:
GETTING a big salary for himself at either a non-profit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions; SECURING a spot for his wife on paid corporate boards, with compensation of 150-thousand-DOLLARS a year; ELICITING promises of campaign funds, including cash up front and possibly WRANGLING a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.
In ordinary speak, they’re claiming that Blagojevich, who turns 52 on Wednesday, tried to sell or trade Obama’s old Senate seat to the highest bidder…who would give him personal benefits for himself and his wife.
No comment, so far, from the Obama transition team. Blagojevich is quoted saying Mr. Obama can F-off because “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation“.
Investigators say Blagojevich also talked about feeling frustrated that he was “stuck as governor.” He even referred to a possible run for the White House in 20-16.
This underscores how some of us never seem to see the blessings or good things in our lives. Here is a governor, earning a decent salary, with perks, power, influence – a position that many would die for.
On top of this, he is the governor of Illinois, the next president’s home state, which already gives him entry to the White House. Yet instead of calling in groups, agencies and lawmakers to start brainstorming on how best to squeeze every ounce of influence out of Washington, he’s looking around, making comparisons and feeling he’s coming up short.
He sees Obama, his fellow colleague, now suddenly catapulted into the nation’s highest office. Blagojevich is serving his second four-year term. Obama made president during his first term!
The Illinois governor sees others like Jesse Jackson Jr. who could become the state’s next senator…
Yet there he is, feeling trapped in that local office.
He does not see the millions who have been laid off and the millions more poised to be laid off. All he sees is his lot…his misery, his disappointments, his financial strain, his career going nowhere. So he gets antsy, and shoots himself in the foot. Now where does he go from here?
It doesn’t look like Blagojevich will be heading to the White House in 20-16.
According to one news report, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. Both carry a maximum quarter-million-dollar fine.
It’s hard to feel sorry for governor Blagojevich, when, according to officials, he allegedly wanted to pull back eight million dollars in funding from the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He allegedly was pissed because the hospital didn’t give him the 50-thousand-dollar personal contribution he wanted.
Children…? Come on, Mr. Blagojevich. Let’s leave sick kids out of it.
Still until Blagojevich is proven guilty, we will give him the benefit of that doubt. Same as we did for O.J. Simpson.