Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Blagojevich will never pick Obama replacement.


WASHINGTON -- Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald accused Gov. Blagojevich on Tuesday of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama "like a sports agent," auctioning it to the highest bidder, deluding himself that somehow he could even finagle his way into Obama's Cabinet.

The stunning criminal complaint filed against Blagojevich raised the question of just how the seat can be filled, with the process contaminated by a governor on a "political corruption crime spree."

Blagojevich lost the ability to pick Obama's replacement. The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly will meet in special session next week to strip Blagojevich of his appointment power, and I bet they will do it with veto-proof majorities.

And if a brazen Blagojevich insists on selecting an Obama successor in the meantime -- who in their right mind would accept? -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will invoke a rarely used power that senators have to decide whom to seat.

"A different process to select a new senator must be put in place -- and that process should not involve Gov. Blagojevich," Reid said in a statement.

Blagojevich's alleged conduct is audacious, especially since he has been in the scope of investigators for years. Usually in Illinois, politicians know how to walk right up to the pay-to-play line and not cross it. Based on this complaint, it looks like Blagojevich, a runner, leaped across the line in a variety of schemes to try to leverage the appointment.

Maybe there is an innocent construction here, but the various angles Blagojevich was working is jaw-dropping, even for Illinoisans who have a high tolerance for hanky panky.

"The conduct would make Lincoln role over in his grave," said Fitzgerald.

The complaint says the governor was trying to "sell the Senate seat" and lays out the various deals, including an ambassadorship or Cabinet post for himself if he picked an Obama pal. Obama, Fitzgerald said, had nothing "whatsoever" to do with this.

On Nov. 5 Blagojevich said, according to the complaint, "I've got this thing and it's f- - - - - - golden and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for f- - - - - nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And I can always use it. I can parachute me there."

What's hard to believe is that Blagojevich thought that Obama would appoint him to any slot in his administration no matter who he picked for the Senate spot.

Because he was under an ethics cloud, the Illinois governor played no significant role in the Obama operation; Obama's team kept him at a distance. Blagojevich did not speak at the Democratic convention in Denver. He was not at the Obama Grant Park celebration on Nov. 4.

Ironic, isn't it? Blagojevich could have used this Senate pick to help rehabilitate his reputation.


Yes, Blagojevich is under an ethics cloud, and anybody with half a brain knows that that same cloud affects Obama.

good ridance he almost cost me my father's job i really hope this means his idiodic plan to close pontiac prison is over

I often point out to conspiracy buffs that no secret is safe if even one other person knows it. So how can a conspiracy theory be true when dozens or hundreds of people would have had to participate in it?

The egg is on my face, today. Why did it take the feds to bring this guy down? Did NO ONE in the Illinois state government know this was going on?
For openers, each and every one of these shady transactions involved several people. Is this outrage news to Lisa Madigan (Illinois Attorney General)?

I suppose we should all be grateful that we have a federal government to police the state governments. But who's policing the feds?

How deep does this rabbit hole go? And perhaps the $64 trillion dollar question is, "Is Blagojevich being ejected from that hole because he allowed its existence to be documented?"


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on December 10, 2008 9:04 AM.

Sun-Times front pages of Blagojevich arrest was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama calls for Blagojevich resignation, special election to pick replacement is the next entry in this blog.

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