Blagojevich Conviction Only Partly Reveals Culture of Corruption

Blagojevich photoLast August, things looked sunny for former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. He and his lawyers had just obtained a hung jury on 23 of 24 corruption charges. But Justice Department prosecutors, confident they had their man, continued to pursue the case – and this time with different results. Last Monday, June 27, a Chicago federal jury, after nine days of deliberation, found the man known as “Blago” guilty on 17 of 20 charges, nearly a dozen of them related to his attempts during the fall of 2008 to fill the pending Senate vacancy left by President-Elect Barack Obama in return for campaign cash. Blagojevich’s play-for-pay schemes got him arrested that December and removed from office a month later. While the case highlights corruption in Chicago, its real significance may lie in shedding more light on the political networks making possible Obama’s rise. 

Even before Inauguration Day, Rod Blagojevich …

Blagojevich Trial Puts Obama Closer to Senate Seat Deal

Obama/BlagojevichFrom a public relations standpoint, getting forced out of the Illinois governor’s mansion a year and a half ago was a smart career move for Rod Blagojevich. He’s been all over the TV since, doing stints on such shows as “Celebrity Apprentice” and “The Late Show with David Letterman.” But publicity may not be enough to keep him or several of his former allies out of prison. His long-awaited trial on fraud and conspiracy charges related to his attempt to sell Barack Obama’s pending Senate vacancy to the highest bidder began on June 8, the result of a five-year Justice Department probe into corruption in Chicago politics. Prosecutors wrapped up their case just before 5 P.M. Tuesday.  Evidence introduced thus far confirms widespread suspicions that former Gov. Blagojevich and his benefactors were part of a larger Chicago-Obama White House conduit. 

Since his December 9, 2008 arrest Blagojevich has proclaimed his innocence. …

Blagojevich Aide Harris Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Testify

John HarrisIf former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich thought his problems were behind him, the worst lies ahead. Late in January the state legislature voted to impeach and expel him from office. But it’s not just his job but also his freedom that may be lost, thanks to pending testimony from his former chief of staff, John Harris. Harris yesterday pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge. And whatever details he spills in court aren’t likely to make the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) look much better than Blagojevich. Nor are they likely to enhance the reputation of President Barack Obama.

Harris, now 47, served as Blagojevich’s chief of staff until seven months ago. Last December 9, FBI agents busted the pair for conspiring to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then-President-Elect Obama to the highest bidder. Harris resigned from office. Knowing they had a ready-made star witness, the feds pressed for a …