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.
I'm sure she'll knock it out of the park.
Nice article on Willson Contreras in the DesMoines Register
Julianna Zobrist will sing national anthem (Memorial Day) at Wrigley today.
Tribune interviews her...
Any word on Neil Ramirez?? Today is his 10th day where they have had to have done something with him, or are they not count today because it is a holiday??
if they dont win at least 130 games this season they can pack it all up, turn wrigley into a concert venue, and move the damn team to san jose.
I see where catcher Cael Brockmeyer was promoted to Tennessee a couple of days ago, to fill a roster spot vacated by David Freitas, recently promoted to Iowa. Caratini is the other catcher at Tennessee.
They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.
If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!
(But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)
Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.
Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.