Find Post Investigations On:
Facebook Scribd Twitter
Friendfeed RSS Google Reader
» About This Blog | Meet the Investigative Team | Subscribe
Ongoing Investigation

Top Secret America

The Post explores the top secret world the government created in response to the attacks of Sept. 11.

Ongoing Investigation

The Hidden Life of Guns

How guns move through American society, from store counter to crime scene.

Have a Tip?

Talk to Us

If you have solid tips, news or documents on potential ethical violations or abuses of power, we want to know. Send us your suggestions.
• E-mail Us

Categories

Post Investigations
In-depth investigative news
and multimedia from The Washington Post.
• Special Reports
• The Blog

Reporters' Notebook
An insider's guide to investigative news: reporters offer insights on their stories.

The Daily Read
A daily look at investigative news of note across the Web.

Top Picks
A weekly review of the best
in-depth and investigative reports from across the nation.

Hot Documents
Court filings, letters, audits and other documents of interest.

D.C. Region
Post coverage of investigative news in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Washington Watchdogs
A periodic look into official government investigations.

Help! What Is RSS?
Find out how to follow Post Investigations in your favorite RSS reader.

Hot Comments

Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

Recent Posts
Bob Woodward

The Washington Post's permanent investigative unit was set up in 1982 under Bob Woodward.


Archives
See what you missed, find what you're looking for.
Blog Archive »
Investigations Archive »

Have a Tip?
Send us information on ethics violations or abuses of power.
E-Mail Us »

Other
Investigations
Notable investigative projects from other news outlets.
On the Web »
Top Picks »

Zell 'Point Man' Identified as Blago Contact

POSTED: 03:43 PM ET, 12/12/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Tucked away among the jaw-dropping political bombshells in the 76-page corruption complaint filed against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is a reference to a mild-mannered "financial adviser" at the cash-strapped Tribune Co.

Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, had allegedly been applying a bit of pressure to the adviser, threatening to hold up the company's state financing plans and meddling with the sale of the Chicago Cubs baseball team unless he did something about the Tribune newspaper's "unfair" and "biased" editorial board.

During a Nov. 5 phone call between Blagojevich and Harris, the governor told his deputy to tell the adviser that "this is a serious thing now" and that the only "way around it" is to "have a discussion about what you guys are going to do about that newspaper."

The adviser said the editorial page was a delicate issue. But he got Blagojevich's message, Harris said, "loud and clear."

Blagojevich and Harris apparently were on a first-name basis with the "adviser" -- Nils.

In its Friday editions, the Tribune identified the unnamed official as Nils Larsen, a 38-year-old Tribune Co. executive described as a "financial whiz" and a chief deputy to owner Sam Zell.

Federal authorities have subpoenaed the Tribune and are looking for memos about possible firings or any changes to the newspaper's editorial board, a source told the paper.

In a profile in Crain's Chicago Business "40 Under 40" feature last year, Larsen was described as Zell's "point man in arranging and negotiating $11.2 billion in financing for the deal, scoping the future of Tribune's 23 television stations and running the sale of the Chicago Cubs."

An avid bicyclist, Larsen has been with Zell for more than a dozen years and apparently had his ear after a string of impressive business acquisitions. He also shared the Tribune Co. owner's "edge," the profile noted. A memento found in Larsen's office was an ax used to launch a barge into the Ohio River.

While it's unclear whether Larsen actually applied any pressure to get anyone on the Tribune's editorial staff fired (Blagojevich had specifically called for John P. McCormick to get axed), it appears he had been talking at some level with the governor and his aide.

It also should be noted that while Larsen hasn't personally given money to Blagojevich's campaigns, he has donated to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and the American Commercial Lines political action committee.

By Derek Kravitz |  December 12, 2008; 3:43 PM ET Blagojevich Scandal
Previous: Missing Criminals, Miami Mortgage Fraud and the Military's $7.6M Powder | Next: The FBI's History of Wiretapping

Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 

© 2010 The Washington Post Company