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The Blagojevich Files: The Unnamed 'Senate Candidates'

POSTED: 02:40 PM ET, 12/ 9/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Among the details of the lengthy federal bribery and conspiracy charges filed against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, a few choice "unnamed" Senate candidates stick out.

Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President-elect Barack Obama and a Chicago businesswoman, is likely "Senate Candidate No. 1." Blagojevich thought of "trading" the Senate seat to Jarrett in exchange for becoming secretary of the Health and Human Services Department or leveraging Jarrett's selection for a job with "Change to Win," a coalition of labor unions organized by the Service Employees International Union.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed opined was a candidate in a Nov. 7 column, is likely "Senate Candidate No. 2."

The FBI reviewed Sneed's Nov. 7 column and found similar information between the wiretaps and the article. In the piece, Sneed referenced the Madigan rumor as the "latest from Blagoville" and wrote, "Even though this sounds like looneyville...stay tuned."

"Senate Candidate No. 4" is a deputy governor of Illinois, according to the indictment. The current deputy governors to Blagojevich are Dean Martinez, Bob Greenlee and Louanner Peters. Whoever No. 4 is, he or she is apparently a close aide to Blagojevich; the candidate is referenced as someone the governor could "count on...if things get hot, to give (the seat) up and let me parachute over there."

"Senate Candidate No. 6" is only referred to as a "wealthy person from Illinois."

The real mystery lies with "Senate Candidate No. 5." In wiretaps from Dec. 4, Blagojevich is said to be giving the candidate "greater consideration" for the seat because the candidate would "raise money" for the governor if he ran for re-election.

Most notably, Blagojevich recounts an incident where an "emissary" to No. 5 approached him sometime before Oct. 31 and offered to "pay to play," according to a federal wiretap.

"That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (the candidate) a senator," Blagojevich is quoted as saying.

On Dec. 4, Blagojevich said he was "elevating" No. 5 on his list of prospective candidates and arranging a meeting "in the next few days."

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Chicago's South Side congressman and a potential candidate for the Senate seat, met with Blagojevich yesterday, according to the Chicago Tribune, and discussed his credentials over a 90-minute meeting.

Jackson, 43, who has served 13 years in Congress, has "mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post," the article said. Blagojevich called Jackson "a very strong candidate in a very strong position" for the job, but quickly cautioned that no one should "read too much into this because I haven't made up my mind."

There are other possibilities, however.

On Nov. 10, Blagojevich apparently authorized the leak to Sneed that the governor had a "long, productive discussion" with No. 5. The FBI believed that this information was "untrue," according to the complaint.

Four days later, on Nov. 14, Sneed made mention of Illinois Senate President Emil Jones being in the running. "Sneed hears Gov. Blago, who will choose Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate, privately feels there may be only one choice that makes sense: His buddy, outgoing Senate President Emil Jones."

Jones, 73, has long been considered a front-runner in the race.

And, in a column published today, Sneed referenced veteran state Rep. Arthur L. Turner as a possible candidate Blagojevich was considering for the spot.

Turner, 58, is currently in his 13th term in the Illinois House, having served since 1981. The Chicago Democrat is also a finalist for director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

By Derek Kravitz |  December 9, 2008; 2:40 PM ET Blagojevich Scandal
Previous: Tapping the Governor's Phone | Next: Report: Soldiers Needed Tougher Humvees


Please email us to report offensive comments.

It's not an Indictment but a Complaint. The case hasn't gone to the grand jury yet.

Posted by: TalkLeft | December 9, 2008 3:34 PM

Erm, it's not an "indictment." An indictment is issued by a Grand Jury and initiates a criminal prosecution. What we have here is a "criminal complaint," which is presented to a magistrate by a law enforcement officer in support of an arrest warrant. Blagojevich has not been indicted, but he is being arraigned.

Posted by: agajpc | December 9, 2008 3:36 PM

Also, what about "Senate Candidate # 3"? You don't say anything about him/her/it.

Posted by: agajpc | December 9, 2008 3:37 PM

Not meaning to defend a rotten apple, but how was this wire-tapping done? If it was done illegally, then it's Crooks vs. Crooks, ain't it? What really happens when Big-Crook wiretaps Friend-Crook? Yes, it's all about corruption and asses being wiped with public funds and public well-being. That's how and why empires fall: CORRUPTION.

Posted by: ElMugroso | December 9, 2008 4:39 PM

Well, at the press conference this morning Fitzgerald described in detail the process of getting a warrant for the witretaps. They got judicial approval.

Posted by: agajpc | December 9, 2008 5:00 PM

Does any of the alledged corrupt activity lead to President Elect Obama? Did the Gov and the Sen have a close relationship or business affiliations?

Posted by: december58 | December 9, 2008 5:32 PM

If so many people were involved, why wasnt this turned into law enforcement sooner? Is everyone in power afraid or corrupt themselves? I must be naive, but is this how our government is run? Are other states just like this too? How can the average American differenciate between real public servants and bought ones?

Posted by: december58 | December 9, 2008 5:40 PM

Blagojevich is so blatant about this that there have to be all sorts of people he has asked for payoff from. How can he blunder about with those extortions and not get turned in by multiple people, unless asking for a payoff is so common that even the ones who wouldn't play along still wouldn't turn him in? This is very discouraging.
The breadth of acceptance of corruption has to be staggering.

Posted by: burnskevin | December 9, 2008 5:46 PM

A really - really bad day for the DEMOCRUDS

Posted by: hclark1 | December 9, 2008 6:33 PM

I'm convinced #5 is Emil Jones. JJJr is not a strong fundraiser but Jones is.

Ben Smith of The Politico says that, based on the tape, the mystery candidate answers to the following description:

1. Publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat. The Chicago Sun-Times on Monday has a direct quote from Jones he is interested.

2. Not who Blagojevich thought Obama wanted

3. Not someone with whom, by November 10, Blagojevich had a "long, productive discussion"

4. someone with fundraising wherewithal who could produce something "tangible up front"

5. Someone Blago was "getting a lot of pressure" not to appoint.

6. Someone with whom Blago had "a prior bad experience...not keeping his word"

Obama would have never become a Senator without Jones, and would have never been elected President either. It was Jones who eventually took Obama under his wing and made sure that key pieces of legislation developed by others had Obama's name on them. Obama owes Jones.

However, Obama also has a habit of cutting people off once he has what he needs from them: Rev. Wright, for example, William Ayres, Father Pfleger, even Howard Dean, without whose 50-state strategy Obama would not be president. That might explain why, in the affidavit, Obama didn't want Candidate #5. Jones would be another in a long list of those who had the privilege of being shafted by the President-elect.

Posted by: cab91 | December 10, 2008 1:25 PM

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