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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Weekend Reader: Only In Chicago: How The Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois And Enthralled The Nation

Weekend Reader: Only In Chicago: How The Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois And Enthralled The Nation

Today, the Weekend Reader brings you Only in Chicago: How the Rod Blagojevich Scandal Engulfed Illinois and Enthralled the Nation by Natasha Korecki, a political reporter for the Chicago-Sun Times. The excerpt below focuses on the former governor’s trial after he was indicted for soliciting bribes in exchange for political appointments, including the vacant Senate seat once held by Barack Obama. Blagojevich was convicted on corruption charges in 2012 and is now serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison.

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Blagojevich testified at one point that former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert told him to get something for himself in exchange for the Senate seat.

“Get your quid pro quo and make it a twofer,” Blagojevich alleged

Hastert said to him. What Hastert meant, Blagojevich continued, was that he should appoint someone like Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White or Lisa Madigan—a state official—so he could also appoint a replacement for their positions, thus getting a “two-for-one” appointment. Blagojevich said he had a “very close relationship” with Hastert, whom he saw as a “seasoned veteran” and “the coach you wanted to always impress.”

While discussing his November 2008 meeting with Tom Balanoff, Blagojevich explained that appointing Obama’s apparent choice, Valerie Jarrett, seemed like a giveaway. Meanwhile, he said, he would be stuck back in Illinois with legislative leader Michael Madigan blocking his every move in the legislature. He felt this would only get worse if he didn’t name Madigan’s daughter to the seat.

“I’d be worse than a lame duck, because in addition to the existing gridlock, I wouldn’t have made his daughter a senator” when he had the chance to, he said.

Eventually, Blagojevich got around to what he called the “phrase heard ’round the world”: “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and I’m just not giving it up for fucking nothing.”

What did he mean by this?

Many observers might have expected Blagojevich’s reply to be practiced. But he tripped over his words.

“Well, that’s the, that’s, uh, the Senate seat,” Blagojevich stumbled. “I was saying that this opportunity is effin’ golden and that’s what I was saying, and I don’t want to give it up for nothing, so we had these discussions.”

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Goldstein pressed: what did he mean?

“I’m afraid to answer this,” Blagojevich responded. “I’d like to answer it. I’m not sure how to answer it.…In my mind, I didn’t know,” Blagojevich said. “I had no idea, other than all these different ideas that we were throwing around, and I was trying to figure out what, if anything, could possibly be part of a deal for the Senate seat. And I didn’t know and that’s why I was talking about it.”

Blagojevich tried to persuade the jury that in his taped conversation with Balanoff, he was not demanding one thing for another, but that he had “floated the idea” of getting a cabinet post as they discussed Jarrett’s appointment.

Balanoff was, after all, the same man Obama had called and given the green light to talk to Blagojevich about appointing Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

Blagojevich said that while talking to Balanoff, he hesitated and explained his own personal and political predicament if he appointed Jarrett and he got nothing.

“You all go to Washington, D.C., doing all this historic, beautiful stuff on healthcare and I’m left behind. I gotta consider those dynamics, too,” Blagojevich said he told Balanoff, referring to the prospect of remaining in gridlocked Illinois politics while so many other leading figures in Illinois Democratic politics went to Washington.

“He said he understood.”

Then Blagojevich made the ask: Could he possibly get a cabinet position; specifically, could he be named to head up Health and Human Services?

“You could just see the embarrassment in his face,” Blagojevich said of Balanoff. “’You have no chance at that. It’s not going to happen for you.’ I felt so uncomfortable for how he looked.”

Blagojevich described the conversation as “a bad try.” He denied ever pushing it further or saying he’d only appoint Jarrett if he got something in return.

“I did not want to convey a promise to Tom Balanoff…I floated the idea,” Blagojevich said. “He was quick to honestly reject it as being unrealistic.”

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  • terry b

    Being I am from Wisconsin I am a little torn by the fact that a known criminal like Scott Walker was able to keep the governorship while the two previous criminals from Illinois have been put where they belong and ours has not. Guess guilt by association doesn’t work as well as it occasionally should.

    • Ed

      terry b:

      You are a GENIUS ! You have information that NOBODY ELSE have got their hands on about Scott Walker’s “known criminal” activities! “Known” by whom? By you only? Please go to the US Dept of Injustice (Eric Holdup, Secretary) and give them ALL of that private information that you possess, son!
      Methinks you are a union “leader” still licking your wounds ….
      Oh brother.

      • terry b

        What do you call a person who hired seven people who committed felonies after there jobs started? Five of them were members of his Milwaukee Executive staff that worked on state time to help him get elected. The DOJ did a lousy job of trying to get 3 of them to roll on their boss. All they could say is that they assumed that he wanted them to do what they did. How such a known criminal could survive a recall is beyond me. People in Illinois are laughing at us because their previous governors are where Walker belongs. By the way, never been a member of a union. Some good things came out of that action by our known criminal. Try something new Ed. Use your mind.

        • bikejedi

          That comment is absurd and wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar in Illinois where every Dem their Staff’s and every Public Union member does Campaign work while on the clock .. To state that people in Illinois are laughing at you is crazy . We the Tax Payers of Illinois all to a man would trade you our Dems for your Reformer . That way you can have the 100’s of billions of dollars of Union Debt . You could enjoy the constant Job killing Tax Increases and we could have a balanced budget and low taxes … You are so misinformed it isn’t even funny .

        • Ed

          terry b, you poor devil: I would tell you to use your mind for a change if I thought that you had one. But I see that, having incriminating information about Walker (that NOBODY BUT YOU have), you refuse to go to Eric Holdup. Why?

          • terry b

            Are you ignorant or just stupid? Everyone in the state knows of the 7 felons that he hired. 5 as the Milwaukee County Executive and 2 as governor. Use what little brain power that you may have to know that what I have stated is the truth. Easy to use google to verify it. Have a nice day dumbo!!

          • Ed

            terry b: You are the dummie here; if EVERYBODY knows that info, how come these guyas have not been indicted by Eric Holdup’s “Justice” Department?!
            You are even more of a MORON than I thought.

          • terry b

            You continue to make me look like the brightest person out here by continually posting your inept and banally ignorant posts. All 7 have been convicted by the DOJ. If you had any intelligence you would know that Walker had a 100,000 criminal defense for himself incase he got indicted. Instead of being the typical idiot you appear to be you should use google to verify that all that I have said is true. Your lack of intelligence does humor me especially when a true moron like yourself refers to me as being someone that you appear to be. Hate to embarrass you by having you use a search engine to prove how ignorant you truly are but everyone out here knows that you do not have the brains to do such a thing. If there is one thing dummies like yourself hate, it is the truth. Have a nice night dumbass. Keep up the good work on making me look good and making yourself look like the complete imbecile that you are. I know that your vocabulary is extremely small because of your obvious lack of intelligent but impress us with a retort of more than 30 words. I know that that is difficult for you but give it a shot so everyone out here can have a good laugh!!

          • Ed

            terry b: You state that I make you look like the brightest person “out here” [at The National Memo].
            You know what?
            I think you might be right !!
            Even with all your (very evident) stupidity you may very well be the least stupid of the “posters” and “journalists” on this cesspool of socialism.
            I can “run rings” around you, terry ….
            Get a life.
            LOL !!

  • bikejedi

    I’m going to tell you what everyone knows in Chicago . 1 the Judge had a personal vendetta against Blago and even though he is a felon there is NO WAY he deserved what he got . I mean he is the ONLY Dem in Illinois that couldn’t figure out how to get rich off of the back door deals that are common here . 2 Rahm Emanuel Valerie Jarrett and Jesse Jackass Jr should of all gone to jail over this but the Prosecutor cut the investigation short when he had enough to just go after Blago lest he embarrass the newly elected Obama with what would of been the 1st of his many many SCANDALS . Everyone in Lae Enforcement here knows they purposely dropped the ball to protect these Obama regime people .

  • docb

    hmmm..bloggie …Strange

  • Ed

    terry baby: You are a riot!!
    I said: “Even with all your (very evident) stupidity you may very well be the
    least stupid of the “posters” and “journalists” on this cesspool of
    socialism.” And you respond, like the dummy you are: “Thank you again for proving to all of us how incredibly bright I am …”
    terry baby, I can ” play” you like a violin; you are a complete dumbass ….hee, hee, heee!!!
    Go back to your toys.

    • terry b

      Have you ever seen a doctor for the apparent brain damage that you seem to suffer from. Walker is a known criminAl with lots of evidence to prove it. As your lack of intelligence implies that you are an idiot or you suffer From a severe mental health issue. By the way, I’m a senior software Analyst. How about you? You seem like you need to be reprogrammed to be intelligent instead of seeming so dumb with your childish sophmoric posts.

      • Ed

        terry baby: 1) “brain damage” you say? I guess it takes one to know one;2) Walker is a known criminal “with lots of evidence to prove it”?? Even an idiot like you should know that if the “Justice” Dept had any of the “evidence” you mention, Walker would already being in jail with Obozo’s friend Blago; 3) terry, you pathetic slob, you are not “a senior software Analyst” (why the capital “A”?) as you say; you are A SOFT SENIOR with an ANAL problem !!
        terry, I repeat, I can “run rings” around you; everybody who has read this BORING interaction between us has already noticed.
        Want more “punishment”, terry?
        BTW, it’s “sophOmoric” and not “sophmoric”, you dummy ….
        Pathetic …

        • terry b

          The evidence is the fact that he hired 5 people who committed felonies while working for his campaign on government time. They testified that they did it because they assumed that that is what he wanted them to do. They were right. There is a great saying about someone like him. It goes that if you hire one person who becomes a felon while working for him that it was a mistake. If you hire two people who commit a felony then that is considered a big mistake. If you hire 5 that commit a criminal act for you than you are a criminal. You can’t run rings around anyone who is as smart as I am. Everyone who has read our word battle knows that I am far brighter than you. Course, that is not saying much when dealing with a mental moron like yourself. You really do need to see a mental health professional. I am a senior software analyst working for one of the largest insurance companies in the country. You seem to give proof that you are not only a complete moron but a posterior orifice as well. You actually used more than 30 words in this post so I have to give you credit that in being not just dumb, that somehow you actually took the time to be much more articulate than in your thoughtless posts of the past. Ed baby, you have no chance against me in any debate. Thanks for making me look so good out here. Competing with an idiot is fun but now even I am bored with your constant babble. You never did answer me as to whether or not as if you ever did got your GED. I have two college degrees. One of the reasons that I am so intelligent compared to someone who may have never graduated from high school much less college. Still, I do have to thank you to no longer allow myself to respond to your buffoonery via telephone. To easy to make writing errors, like sophomoric, on a telephone instead of a computer. Good luck with dealing with your battle with mental illness that you don’t seem to be having any luck with.

  • orange_capz

    Expanding democratic processes can be achieved by increasing the number of persons eligible to vote, expanding the scope of issues determined by democratic methods, or both.

  • lowCal90

    Since the development of raw intellect into refined intelligence and wisdom depends upon a variety of external factors, it is reasonable to conclude that the external factors are just as important as the inherited intellect.