Illinois Governor Indicted on Corruption, Charges Include Tampering with Sale of Wrigley
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on corruption charges. The most prominent charges involve allegations that he essentially tried to sell his pending appointment of a successor to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama.
However, the indictments also include a charge that Blagojevich threatened to make assistance in the Tribune's efforts to sell Wrigley Field conditional on the Tribune firing members of its editorial board who had criticized his administration and even called for his impeachment.
Not wanting to pre-empt the winter meeting updates too much, the details are after the break.
Looking at pages 41 through 49 of the indictment (warning, .pdf file), Blagojevich is accused of phoning officials at the Tribune and demanding the dismissal of editors who Blagojevich believed were "driving" the movement towards impeachment; the governor feared would impeachment could go forward early in the spring of 2009. If they were not let go, the governor allegedly threatened to block state assistance in the sale of Wrigley - a process that would go through the Illinois Finance Authority. In a phone call to an unnamed Deputy Governor intercepted by the FBI this November 3rd,
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." ... Deputy Governor A told ROD BLAGOJEVICH that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with theeditorials, “but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune.” Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can “just fire” the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune. (44)
The Tribune company, which just yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection, was widely known to be in financial trouble, so the threat to deny state assistance in the sale of Wrigley must have carried some amount of weight.
Pages 48 and 49 of the indictment gives a sense of just how much weight.
In apparent reference to the prospect of IFA assistance for the Wrigley Field deal, ROD BLAGOJEVICH then asked, “what does this mean to them? Like $500 million? What does it mean to [Tribune owner] in real terms?” HARRIS replied, “To them? About $100 million . . .maybe 150.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that he thought “it was worth like $500 million to ‘em.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS then discussed the details of the deal the Cubs are trying to get through the IFA. HARRIS [Blagojevich's chief of staff - Trans] said that it is basically a tax mitigation scheme where the IFA will “own title to the building” (believed to be Wrigley Field), and the Tribune will not “have to pay capital gains tax.” HARRIS explained that the total gain to the Tribune is in the neighborhood of $100 million. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, “$100 million is nothing to sneeze at. That’s still worth something, isn’t it?”
The prosecuter in the case is U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, most recently known for his prosecution of the Valerie Plame leak. Blagojevich, a Democrat, came into office on the heels of Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, who was convicted of racketeering and fraud, and presently is serving a six-year prison term. Fitzgerald's press release notes the potential penalties facing Blagojevich:
if convicted, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, while solicitation of bribery carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, and each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
lulz, MIA with a 5-0 lead after 2 innings.
d.gordon leads off MIA inning with a HR...came up to bat wearing j.fernandez's helmet.
he barely made it back into the dugout after crying his way around the bases.
i can't watch this game anymore. it's too much...too real.
FLA really doesn't look like they're mentally/physically prepared for this game. never seen anything like this...it's not just a few people in the dugout still feeling it large, it's pretty much everyone.
i doubt it will lead to some kinda error-filled little league quality game, but everyone looks drained and still draining.
...and onto the cubs game. go #100.
The Marlins organization is obviously affected deeply by this. I feel for the people there. And I understand circumstances have changed.
But retiring his number. Wow. Literally a week ago the rumor mill was fast and furious about how Fernandez was going to be traded this winter, with the front office in response doing almost nothing to deny it. And to turn around and retire his number, just like that, when they obviously felt the organization would have been better long-term without him, just reeks of insincerity.
jose fernandez's number is going to be retired by FLA.
there's custom jerseys on their way to tonight's game (and hopefully will make it on time). all the marlins are going to wear #16 tonight.
this still sucks.
probably saturday depending on what they do with hammel (assuming friday for ham).
Lester is going to get one more start, right? It sure would be nice to see him get a shot at 20 wins.
Nicely done! I think in my 10-14 games I went .500 or a little over. Strangely, I went to the Cards games they mostly lost (incl Saturday) and the one SF game they lost, plus a couple Brewers games they lost, too. I should have gone to just Reds games. But still - saw mostly very good baseball on the North Side this year. Regardless of what happens come October - the Cubs are positioned for some good times in the next 3-5 years.
First Cub victory at home this year for me!
Saw all four starters this year
RIP Arnie. We could use a lot more like you -- a man who succeeded and failed on his own terms, a true original, and, finally, a remarkable example of graciousness towards others.
Cubs finish 33 over at home. I was, personally, one game over at 3-2, which was one of my better years in a while.
I do hope that's the last time we see the Cardinals this year. A lot of power, which is dangerous, particularly in a short series, and they have really shut down KB all year.
Oh, and Jon Lester? Damn!
Yes. Boating accident at 3AM. Very sad, but stupid. Young men do stupid things.
lester puts 2 on and is taken out at 96 pitches. oh well.
2 out in the 7th, lester at 84 pitches, ross taken out for the standing O.
it's possible contreras will catch lester for another inning+.
What a weird day. Jose Fernandez and Arnold Palmer, but then Scully and, on a much more modest level, Ross....