Tapping the Governor's Phone
Despite being the focus of a three-year investigation by the FBI, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich hit the phone lines before Election Day to figure out how to profit from his opportunity to fill Barack Obama's soon-to-be-vacant "golden" Senate seat.
The governor did not suspect that federal agents had started tapping his home phone on Oct. 29. By Nov. 3, according to a 76-page complaint, Blagojevich's plans to sell the seat were in full gear.
Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, are charged with orchestrating an elaborate scheme to accept payoffs for the Senate seat.
Blagojevich, a Democrat, allegedly was seeking to leverage a new job for himself -- an appointment to Secretary of Health and Human Services (a job that went to Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) or a post at a private foundation at a "substantial salary." He also sought to get his wife placed in paid corporate board positions.
Blagojevich and Harris also are accused of demanding the firing of members of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board in exchange for helping the Tribune Co. with the sale of Chicago's Wrigley Field.
Chris Cillizza of washingtonpost.com called Blagojevich's arrest "far-reaching, with tentacles into the Senate, governor's mansion and the national political scene."
In Pontiac, Ill., where townspeople are fighting the governor's plan to close the local prison, Mayor Scott McCoy told The Associated Press that his first thought after hearing about about the indictment was that Christmas came early.
Meanwhile, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna called on Blagojevich to immediately resign.
After the jump, some of the most notable quotes from those wiretaps of Blagojevich's phone, according to federal court documents:
BLAGOJEVICH ON TAKING THE SENATE SEAT HIMSELF
"If . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it."
"Unless I get something real good for (unnamed Senate candidate), [expletive], I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying."
"I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself.
(The Senate seat) "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."
BLAGOJEVICH ON THE NEGOTIATIONS
(The ) "trick . . . is how do you conduct indirectly . . . a negotiation."
"How much are you offering, (President-elect Obama)? What are you offering, (second unnamed Senate candidate)? . . . Can always go to. . . (third unnamed Senate candidate)."
"It's got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me."
"I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden, and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there."
BLAGOJEVICH ON STARTING A NON-PROFIT
"His (President-elect Obama's) friend Warren Buffett or some of those guys to help us
on something like that."
BLAGOJEVICH ON WHY HE WAS SELLING THE SENATE SEAT
"Our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation. This decision, like every other one, needs to be based upon on that. Legal. Personal. Political."
"I want to make money," adding that he was hurting "financially."
"The immediate challenge (is) how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family."
(I do) "not want to be Governor for the next two years."
HARRIS ON THE NEGOTIATIONS
"We wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than. . .make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo."
BLAGOJEVICH ON BEING UNDER INVESTIGATION
"You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody's listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?"
By Derek Kravitz |
December 9, 2008; 12:39 PM ET
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