TPM News

Senate Candidate 2 appears to be Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

From the charging document:

On November 6, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Spokesman. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Spokesman to leak to a particular columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, that Senate Candidate 2 is in the running for the vacant Senate seat. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, by doing this, he wanted "to send a message to the [President-elect's] people," but did not want it known that the message was from ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Spokesman discussed specific language that should be used in the Sun Times column and arguments as to why Senate Candidate 2 made sense for the vacant Senate seat. A review of this particular Sun Times column on November 7, 2008, indicates references to the specific language and arguments regarding Senate Candidate 2 as a potential candidate for the Senate seat, as discussed by ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Spokesman.


So let's look at that November 7 item. Written by Michael Sneed and headlined: "Tipsville", it reads (via Nexis):
The latest from Blagoville: Is Gov. Rod Blagojevich toying with tossing Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who wants Blago's job? - It's his pick . . . and it would get rid of a rival. - It may endear him to powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan, Lisa's dad, who is Blago's political foe. - It would enable Gov. Blago to choose a new Illinois attorney general. - Hmmm: Even though this sounds like looneyville . . . stay tuned.


It's worth making clear: Candidate 2 is not accused of wrongdoing.

Pat Fitzgerald also talked at his recent press conference about his request to the Chicago Tribune to hold off on a story they were planning to publish on the investigation -- a request the paper granted.

About eight weeks ago, before we had the bug installed, and before we had the wiretap up, we were contacted by the Tribune to comment or confirm or deny on a story that they were going to run. Had they ran that story, we thought we'd never have the opportunity to install the bug or place the telephone tap. And we made an urgent request for the Tribune not to publish that story. That is a very rare thing for us to do, and it's an even rarer thing for a newspaper to grant. We thought that the public interest request that the story not run. It was a very difficult conversation to have because we weren't allowed to describe what we were doing. And I have to take my hat off that the Tribune withheld that story for a substantial period of time, which otherwise might have compromised the investigation from ever happening.


Here's the video:



The cooperation from the Trib is ironic because, as we noted earlier, part of Fitzgerald's investigation involved Blagojevich pressuring Tribune owner Sam Zell to remove editorial board members who had written articles against the governor. And Blagojevich was left with the impression that Zell was willing to do so.

Here's a statement from the Tribune:
The Chicago Tribune investigated allegations of misconduct involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich independent of the U.S. attorney's criminal probe.

As a standard practice, our reporters contact individuals involved in these stories for confirmation and comment prior to publication. Consequently, we contacted the U.S. attorney's office in the course of our reporting.

On occasion, prosecutors asked us to delay publication of stories, asserting that disclosure would jeopardize the criminal investigation. In isolated instances, we granted the requests, but other requests were refused.

The Chicago Tribune's interest in reporting the news flows from its larger obligation of citizenship in a democracy. In each case, we strive to make the right decision as reporters and as citizens. That's what we did in this case.

An FBI agent just said at a press conference that when Blagojevich was woken by a phone call from the FBI this morning, informing him that agents were coming to arrest him, he asked: "Is this a joke?"

Here's the video:

At a press conference to announce the charges against Blagojevich, Pat Fitzgerald said:

But the most cynical behavior in all this -- the most appalling -- is the fact that Governor Blagojevich tried to sell the appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Obama. The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.


Here's the video:



It's good to have America's favorite prosecutor back on the scene.

Is Senate Candidate 5, who appears to have been particularly willing to play ball with Blago, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr?

The unnamed candidate appears to be a man. From the charging documents:

Rod Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Rod Blagojevich had a problem with Senate Candidate 5 just promising to help Rod Blagojevich because Rod Blagojevich had a prior bad experience with Senate Candidate 5 not keeping his word. (our itals)


That rules out Valerie Jarrett -- already assumed to be Candidate 1 -- Tammy Duckworth, Lisa Madigan, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

There's also this from the charges:
On December 4 ... ROD BLAGOJEVICH noted he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days.


Now look at this from the Chicago Tribune on December 6:
Jackson, the South Side and south suburban congressman, said Blagojevich's office is looking to set up a meeting between him and the governor, who has the sole power of filling the vacancy.

"Every indication, I believe, is in the next four or five days a meeting will take place," Jackson said.


And indeed, Jackson and Blagojevich met yesterday.

And as of December 3, National Journal reported at the time, he had already met with Rep. Luis Gutierrez as well as some of the female candidates.

That's a long way from proof that Candidate 5 is Jackson. But it's at least suggestive.

From page 44 of the Blagojevich charges, about the deal the Tribune company was seeking on behalf of the Cubs:

During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A 'to hold up that fucking Cubs shit ... fuck them'"


Guess she's a White Sox fan.

Is Sam Zell, the Tribune Company owner, implicated in the charging documents of Rod Blagojevich?

From Fitzgerald's statement:

According to the affidavit, intercepted phone calls revealed that the Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Cubs, has explored the possibility of obtaining assistance from the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) relating to the Tribune Company's efforts to sell the Cubs and the financing or sale of Wrigley Field. In a November 6 phone call, Harris explained to Blagojevich that the deal the Tribune Company was trying to get through the IFA was basically a tax mitigation scheme in which the IFA would own title to Wrigley Field and the Tribune would not have to pay capital gains tax, which Harris estimated would save the company approximately $100 million.

Intercepted calls allegedly show that Blagojevich directed Harris to inform Tribune Owner and an associate, identified as Tribune Financial Advisor, that state financial assistance would be withheld unless members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board were fired, primarily because Blagojevich viewed them as driving discussion of his possible impeachment. In a November 4 phone call, Blagojevich allegedly told Harris that he should say to Tribune Financial Advisor, Cubs Chairman and Tribune Owner, "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."

On November 6, the day of a Tribune editorial critical of Blagojevich , Harris told Blagojevich that he told Tribune Financial Advisor the previous day that things "look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page." Harris also told Blagojevich that he was meeting with Tribune Financial Advisor on November 10.

In a November 11 intercepted call, Harris allegedly told Blagojevich that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." Harris told Blagojevich that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there would be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." Blagojevich allegedly responded. "Oh. That's fantastic." After further discussion, Blagojevich said, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."


In other words, the Tribune company wanted a deal that would save them millions. Harris, the governor's aide, told them that if they removed the paper's ed board, the governor would play ball. In response, Harris got the impression that Zell had received the message and would do what Blagojevich wanted. The governor was pleased.

Late Update: Here's a statement from the Tribune Company, denying the charge.

From Fitzgerald's statement:

In a conversation with Harris on November 11, the charges state, Blagojevich said he knew that the President-elect wanted Senate Candidate 1 for the open seat but "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them."


Looks like Obama wouldn't pay to play.

From the Fitzgerald statement:

On November 12, Blagojevich spoke with SEIU Official who was in Washington. This conversation occurred about a week after Blagojevich had met with SEIU Official to discuss the Senate seat, with the understanding that the union official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1's interest in the Senate seat. During the November 12 conversation, Blagojevich allegedly explained the non-profit organization idea to SEIU Official and said that it could help Senate Candidate 1. The union official agreed to "put that flag up and see where it goes," although the official also had said he wasn't certain if Senate Candidate 1 wanted the official to keep pushing her candidacy. Senate Candidate 1 eventually removed herself from consideration for the open seat. (itals ours)


Both Valerie Jarrett, a friend and adviser to Barack Obama, and Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq vet who runs the Illinois Veteran Affairs Department, have been mentioned as candidates for the seat.

There appears to be no allegation of wrongdoing by Senate Candidate 1.

Late update: The charges themselves say:
By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the President-elect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect.
So it's Jarrett.

Embattled Rep. Don Young (R-AK) may have improperly spent $20,000 from his campaign account last quarter on a Seattle law firm, according to recent campaign filings. It is unclear whether the fees were related to the ongoing federal probe into Young or if they were for campaign-related expenses. FEC guidelines forbid candidates from using campaign funds for non-campaign related matters. Young, who is tight-lipped about the federal probe, has been under investigation by the Justice Department for over a year -- possibly related to his notorious earmarking. (Anchorage Daily News)

Sen.-elect Mark Begich (D-AK), who beat Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) in a week-long contested race in November, said he doesn't believe it is "appropriate" to send the 85-year-old Stevens to jail. Stevens, who was convicted on corruption charges in October, asked for a new trial on Friday. (AP/Roll Call)

Attorneys general will attend conferences this month funded by corporate sponsors that may have legal issues, including drug companies and tobacco firms. The financial ties "represent at least the appearance of a conflict of interest for the attorneys general, and could be improper," reports theKansas City Star. (Kansas City Star)

Read More →

TPMLivewire