The Fact That Blagojevich Is Crooked Isn’t What Surprises Me…

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, both Democrats, have been arrested by the FBI on corruption charges. Apparently, among other things, they were trying to solicit bribes to fill President Government’s Senate seat,

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning.

Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to Frank Bochte of the FBI. Both were awakened in their residences and transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago.

In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.

Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.

“They allege that 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.”

First off, this is highly ironic because Blagojevich replaced Republican Governor George Ryan, who is currently sitting in the pokey on corruption charges. So it’s a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation.

Also, the Feds have apparently been recording Blagojevich for a while and ultimately, if Blagojevich “sought appointment for himself as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration,” then Barack Obama would be the one making that decision, would he not? Wonder if they have any conversations between Blagojevich and the Big O. on tape? Wouldn’t it be delicious if they had something controversial and those tapes were to leak out to the public? Cough, cough — hint, hint.

However, here’s the main thing: whether you’re talking about Blagojevich or Jack Abramhoff, these sort of charges always baffle me a bit. Trading favors is the name of the game in politics and graft. There are a bazillion legalized ways to do it.

You want to be “Secretary of Health and Human Services” in the Obama Administration? Well, there’s a world of difference between saying, “I haven’t decided on whether to appoint you or not, but I know all about being ambitious. I’d love to be Secretary of Health and Human Services more than anything. Now that would be one heck of a job, wouldn’t it?” and saying, “If I appoint candidate X, I want the Secretary of Health and Human Services position in return!” One is business as usual in Washington. The other can mean prison time — as Blagojevich will likely learn the hard way.

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