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The indictment of Rod Blagojevich and his associates includes one RICO conspiracy count. From the DOJ's press release:

The RICO conspiracy count alleges that Blagojevich personally, the Office of the Governor of Illinois and Friends of Blagojevich were associated and, together, constituted the "Blagojevich Enterprise," whose primary purpose was to exercise and preserve power over Illinois government for the financial and political benefit of Blagojevich, both directly and through Friends of Blagojevich, and for the financial benefit of his family members and associates. Blagojevich and Kelly, the only RICO conspiracy defendants, allegedly conspired with Monk, Cellini, Harris, Robert Blagojevich, Rezko and previously convicted cooperating defendant Stuart Levine, to conduct the Blagojevich Enterprise through a pattern of multiple acts of mail and wire fraud, extortion, attempted extortion and extortion conspiracy, and state bribery.

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Here are the major new allegations contained in the indictment of Rod Blagojevich, his brother Robert Blagojevich, and four associates (from a very detailed DOJ press release (pdf)):

[B]eginning in 2002 and continuing after Blagojevich was first elected governor, Blagojevich and Monk, along with Kelly and previously convicted co-schemer Antoin "Tony" Rezko, agreed that they would use the offices of governor and chief of staff for financial gain, which would be divided among them with the understanding that the money would be distributed after Blagojevich left public office.


And:
[I]n 2003, Blagojevich, Monk, Kelly, Rezko and other co-schemers implemented this agreement by directing lucrative state business relating to the refinancing of billions of dollars in State of Illinois Pension Obligation Bonds to a company whose lobbyist agreed to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to Rezko out of the fee the lobbyist would collect, and Rezko in turn agreed to split the money with Blagojevich, Monk and Kelly.


And:
After it became public that Kelly and Rezko were under investigation and ceased playing a significant role in raising campaign funds, Blagojevich personally continued to trade his actions as governor for personal benefits, including, for example, delaying a state grant to a publicly-supported school while trying to leverage a U.S. Congressman, who supported the school, or the Congressman's brother, to hold a campaign fundraiser for Blagojevich.


And:
[I]n an interview on March 16, 2005, Blagojevich lied to FBI agents when he said that he maintains a separation, or firewall, between politics and state business; and he does not track, or want to know, who contributes to him or how much they are contributing to him.

Chicago Breaking News Center reports:

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother Rob and Christopher Kelly, a former top fundraiser for Blagojevich, were all indicted today on corruption charges, the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago announced.

Also charged in the indictment were Lon Monk, a lobbyist and former Blagojevich chief of staff; John Harris, also a former chief of staff to Blagojevich; and William Cellini, a Springfield insider for decades.


Will bring you more from the indictment itself...

The NY-20 special election is now going to come down to the absentee ballots. For one thing, the Election Night numbers between Democratic candidate Scott Murphy and Republican Jim Tedisco are in a virtual tie as the vote totals are still being double-checked, but this does not take into account any absentee votes. So the next question becomes: Who exactly were the absentee voters?

This afternoon, with the assistance of TPM intern Versha Sharma, I called the various counties to get the breakdowns of how many of the returned absentee ballots have been from registered Democrats, registered Republicans, unaffiliated voters or people from any of the minor ideologically-driven parties that exist under New York's fusion-voting system.

So here's where we stand: From over 6,600 ballots that have been returned so far, Republicans are about 45%, Democrats 33%, with unaffiliated voters and minor parties making up the balance. Still more ballots can arrive in the mail between now and the deadline -- April 7 for most absentee voters, April 13 for overseas and military ballots -- but at this point the percentages probably won't change significantly.

And the bottom line answer, as you will see, is every bit as frustrating as the current status quo.

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House Democrats are hitting back against GOP distortions of climate change legislation and, more specifically, an MIT study on which we've reported extensively.

Earlier today Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA)--chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming--released a report on Republican energy and climate distortions called "Wrong in so many ways." The document (which can be read here) addresses four common Republican arguments about climate change legislation, including the controversy over the MIT study:

Rep. Boehner and others don't mention that revenues from a carbon pollution control program could be returned to consumers, or used to invest in clean energy jobs and cost-saving energy efficient technology. So it focuses on all the costs and ignores the benefits. It's just more of the same, tired arguments from a party out of ideas on energy policy.

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Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates raised some eyebrows (however briefly) by saying on Fox News Sunday that the administration had no immediate plans to move forward on President Obama's promise to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell. "I think the president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now," Gates said. "Let's push that one down the road a little bit." Watch:

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Here's a quick alert in the NY-20 special election. As of right now, the leader in the vote totals is...we don't know.

PolitickerNY reports that Republican candidate Jim Tedisco has taken a lead of 12 votes, as the counties have gone through the standard process of checking for errors in their spreadsheets. These errors are a standard occurrence, by the way, and are usually very small and break about evenly. But in an election this close, they can have a real effect.

Meanwhile, the state elections board has given TPM their own most up to date numbers, with Democratic candidate Scott Murphy ahead by six votes. It looks like PolitickerNY has some data that the state doesn't -- and the state could very well have something that PolitickerNY doesn't.

Murphy led by 65 votes on Election Night, then by 25 votes yesterday afternoon. And who knows what it is now, or what it will be tomorrow.

In any case, this election is really going to come down to the more than 6,000 absentee ballots, which haven't been counted at all yet.

We told you how the Alaska Republican party earlier today reacted to the news that the Justice Department is dropping the charges against Ted Stevens by absurdly calling for the resignation of Sen. Mark Begich, the Democrat who beat Stevens last fall.

Well, now Begich has put out a statement in response:

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The McCain substitute amendment (a.k.a. the McCain budget) failed predictably on the Senate floor earlier. As with the Republicans' alternative stimulus bill, nearly ever member of the GOP voted to scrap the Democrats' plan in favor of a much more conservative option. The final tally was 60-38, with Sens. Collins, Corker, and Snowe voting with the Democrats. Sen. Arlen Specter, usually identified as a swing Republican, voted for the mid-recession spending freeze after having voted for a $700 billion stimulus bill intended to combat the economic downturn.

You can see the full roll call here.

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