Illinois Gov. Blagojevich arrested for corruption
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on corruption charges, including an allegation that he conspired “to sell or trade” an appointment to the US Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
The governor has the sole power to pick Obama’s replacement under the state constitution.
“The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said, quoting Blagojevich as saying the Senate seat is “a bleeping valuable thing. You just don’t give it away. … I’ve got this thing and it’s bleeping golden.”
The 76-page FBI affidavit contends that governor was intercepted on wiretaps last month conspiring to shake people down, and it alleges he even considered appointing himself if he wasn’t offered anything of value.
The arrest makes Governor Blagojevich, a Democrat, the second Illinois chief executive in a row to face charges of pay-to-play politics. His predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is serving a 6-1/2-year sentence for a corruption conviction two years ago.
The governor has constantly denied any unlawful activity.
Mr Blagojevich rose from humble origins to become the most influential office-holder in Illinois. As a child he shined shoes and delivered pizzas to bring in money for his family. He worked as a dishwasher on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to help pay for his college tuition at Chicago’s Northwestern University.
Photo: Chicago Tribune