Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why Blago?

"So the governor's office was offering to sell Obama's vacant seat for the right price. It sounds like standard operating procedure for the Chicago political machine. But Barack Obama is the child beneficiary of that same machine. Who bought his chance at a Senate seat for him? And what price was paid for it? ... The Tribune has just filed for Chapter 11, and one of the aggravating financial circumstances for it is the Wrigley Field white elephant. And yet here it is today, calmly reporting the fact that elements of its own management were attempting dirty deals with the governor to help it unload Wrigley Field. ... Is this sudden outburst of civic-minded journalism designed to make it look better to potential new investors when the paper emerges from Chapter 11? ... For the full information on the substance of the case, see the Chicago FBI website. Tony Rezko is named as one of those involved, and he has already been convicted on corruption charges. Is it possible that the severity of his sentence was tied to his co-operation in nailing the higher-ups? And who is higher up than Rod Blagojevich? Who can he finger to help shorten his term in the slammer, or at least make himself more comfortable during his stay with the federal corrections authorities?", my emphasis, Baron Bodissey (BB), 9 December 2008 at

"Federal agents arrested Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and a senior aide Tuesday for what prosecutors described as a political-corruption crime spree, including allegations they tried to sell the Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama. ... Unveiling the federal criminal complaint at a news conference, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald [PF] said Mr. Blagojevich had 'taken the state to a new low'. ... The arrests came five years after federal authorities began investigating Mr. Blagojevich's alleged fund-raising and influence-peddling schemes. For the past two months, investigators have been listening on wiretaps to profanity-laced conversations about the governor's alleged plans to profit from his authority. ... The allegations suggest a breathtaking degree of brazenness on the part of the Illinois governor. ... [FP] told reporters he felt compelled to act this week because of 'lot of things going on that were imminent,' including legislation awaiting the governor's signature that was allegedly being held, pending a potentially illegal payment to Mr. Blagojevich. ... Blagojevich was also threatening to stall the sale of Wrigley Field, owned by the Tribune Co., if the Chicago Tribune newspaper failed to fire five members of the editorial board who were critical of the governor", my emphasis, Douglas Belkin, Lauren Etter and Timothy Martin at the WSJ, 10 December 2008.

"The creditor of a Chicago plant where laid-off employees are conducting a sit-in to demand severance pay said Tuesday it would extend loans to the factory so it could resolve the dispute, but the workers declared their protest unfinished. A resolution seemed nearer as Bank of America, which yanked the plant's financing last week, announced it sent a letter to Republic Windows and Doors offering 'a limited amount of additional loans' to resolve employee claims", Houston Chronicle, 10 December 2008.

"Yesterday, while reading the story about Illinois governor Blagojevich, a central question went through my head. I am sure it was not the question most of Boobus Americanus was asking: Who were the people he was offering to sell the vacant U.S. Senate Senate to? Instead, I was wondering whom in the criminal enterprise we call government he had crossed? ... While the New York Times referred to the story using words such as corruption and scandal, those of us who realize the only 'change' this country secured in the recent presidential election was a change in the skin pigmentation of the tyrant in charge, knew instinctively that the good governor must have really upset someone in power, for corruption and scandal goes to the very core of our government. ... Considering the governor was recorded by those wonderful crime-fighting folks at the FBI bantering about his 'golden' egg with advisers, one must wonder who tipped them off? Of course the FBI is as pure as the driven snow and has never been accused of any wrongdoing, violating civil rights withholding or lying about evidence, or taking the innocent lives of those whom they are sworn to protect, so we know everything about their investigation would be above reproach. ... So, if we have the crooked and corrupt outing the crooked and corrupt, who stood to gain by the revelation to Boobus that one of the criminals was acting in a criminal manner? ... The governor has taken a pee in someone's cornflakes: it will be interesting as we learn who and why", my emphasis, Michael Gaddy (MG) , 11 December 2008 at

"Undoubtedly one of the events [PF] has no desire to influence is his own possible reappointment as U.S. attorney for four more years (all U.S. attorneys can be replaced by the incoming administration). ... Moreover, [PF's] bare-knuckle methods have rankled many in the Chicago bar. For example, he got former Gov. George Ryan's chief of staff, Scott Farwell to testify against his former boss by threatening to imprison Farwell's girlfriend for perjury. ... Instead, with wiretap evidence piling up, ... [PF] was forced to make the arrest", my emphasis, Scott Turow (ST) at the Houston Chronicle, 11 December 2008.

"Allegations that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich approached the nation's largest union seeking help in a complex pay-for-play scheme involving an open Senate seat are the latest episode in a long, mutually beneficial relationship between the governor and the powerful Service Employees International Union ... The relationship, while not illegal, or even unusual, for the SEIU, may help explain why the union finds itself involved with a federal criminal investigation against Mr. Blagojevich. The governor was arrested this week after federal authorities issued a complaint against him which, among other things, said his office suggested a deal might be worked out in which he would be given a union job in exchange for naming a labor-friendly senator to fill the vacancy left by President-elect Barack Obama", my emphasis, Clare Ansberry at the WSJ, 13 December 2008.

"Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's 'conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,' according to U.S. Attorney [PF]. But [PF's] statement would, at the very least, make well-regarded former Attorney General Robert Jackson flinch in his. Almost seven decades ago, Jackson admonished a meeting of U.S. attorneys that they should be dedicated 'to the spirit of fair play and decency. ... A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best protection against the abuse of power. ...' ... The prosecutor is permitted to 'inform the public of the nature and extent' of the charges. In the vernacular of criminal law, that means the prosecutor may not go 'beyond the the four corners'--the specific facts--in the complaint or indictment. He may also provide any other public information, the status of the case, the names of the investigators, and request assistance. But he is not permitted to make the kind of inflammatory statements [PF] made during his media appearance. ... And although I am a Republican, I am first an officer of the court. Thus, I take no joy in a prosecutor pursuing a Democratic politician by violating his ethical responsibility. I fear for the integrity of the criminal justice system when a prosecutor breaks the rules. What's more, [PF] is a repeat offender. In his news conference in October 2005 announcing the indictment of Scooter Libby for obstruction of justice, he compared himself to an umpire who 'gets sand thrown in his eyes.' ... With this statement, [PF] made us all believe he could not find the person who leaked Valerie Plame's name as a CIA operative because of Mr. Libby. What we all know is that [PF] knew well before he ever started the investigation in January 2004 that Richard Armitage was the leaker and nothing Mr. Libby did or did not do threw sand in his eyes. ... In the Libby case, rather than suffer criticism, [PF] became a media darling. ... Additionally, [PF] violated another ethical mandate under Justice guidelines for prosecutors: He is supposed to 'exercise reasonable care to prevent' law enforcement--in this case the FBI agent--from making the same type of extrajudicial statements", Victoria Toensing (VT) at the WSJ, 13 December 2008.

"Lost amid the understandable clamor over the charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois are questions raised by the pretrial public comments about the case by the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. ... The obvious risk is that a prosecutor's statements outside the courtroom, particuarly statements that pillory a defendant, will taint the pool of prospective jurors and make it less likely that a defendant can receive a fair trial. ... [PF's] expressions of revulsion, use of hyperbolic rhetoric and implicit assertion of his personal belief that the charges have merit clearly run afoul of the rules. ... But [PF] is a prosecutor, a highly regarded, powerful and well-known one", Barry Coburn (BC), 13 December 2008 at

"Rod Blagojevich is the perfect holiday treat for a country fighting off depression. He gift-wraps the ugliness of corruption in the mirthful garb of farce. From a safe distance outside Illinois, it's hard not to laugh at the 'culture of Chicago,' where even the president-elect's Senate seat is just another commodity to be bought and sold. ... Blagojevich's alleged crimes pale next to the larger scandals of Washington and Wall Street. ... Enron was an energy company that had divesrified to trade in derivatives. ... It was also brilliant in devising shell companies that kept hundreds of millions of dollars of debt off the company's bottom line and away from the prying eyes of shareholders. ... Much larger companies than Enron figured out how to place even bigger and more impenetrable gambles on derivatives, all the while piling up unseen debt. They built castles of air on a far grander scale than Kenny Boy could have imagined, doing so with sheer stupidity and cavalier, greed-fueld carelessness rather than fraud. ... The most stupendous example as measured in dollars is Citigroup, now the recipient of potentially the biggest taxpayer bailout to date. ... Enron had been a Citigroup client. In a now-forgotten footnote to that scandal, [Robert] Rubin was discovered to have made a phone call to a former colleague in the Treasury Department to float the idea of asking credit-rating agencies to delay downgrading Enron's debt. ... The Republican side of the same tarnished coin in Phil Gramm, the former senator from Texas. ... Gramm is at UBS, which also binged on credit-default swaps and is now receving a $60 billion bailout from the Swiss government. ... Meanwhile, we have the governor [Obama] leaves behind in Illinois to serve as our national whipping boy, the one betrayer of the public trust who could actually end up paying for his behavior", Frank Rich, 14 December 2008 at

"But some members of [PF's] team actually wanted the alleged scheme to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat to advance for a little longer, according to some people close to [PF's] office ... The precise timing of Tuesday's pre-dawn arrest was dictated by the Chicago Tribune, according to people close to the investigation and a careful reading of the FBI's affidavit on the case. At [PF's] request, the paper had been holding back a story since October detailing how a Blagojevich confidant was coooperating with prosecutors. But editors decided to publish on Dec. 5, ending the Tribune's own cooperation deal--and tipping off Mr. Blagojevich", my emphasis, Can Simpson at the WSJ, 15 December 2008.

BB's points are well-taken.

I see something else. First, Blago is a Gottiesque, "poor, obsolete loser", my 21 December 2007 post, What did Blago want for himself and his wife? Peanuts. It's not like he wanted a Goldman Sachs managing directorship or even a Chicago BigLaw partnership. Why now after five years? Did PF realize Obama will put him out on his keesta in a few weeks and needed to line up a Chicago BigLaw partnership now? Is he on the payroll of one of Tribune Co.'s secured creditors? Did PF decide to ingratiate himself with the Bank of America (BofA) by pushing Blago out after Blago threatened to stop doing business with the BofA because the BofA pulled the rug out from under Republic, which is currently undergoing a sit-down strike? Depending upon how dirty Blago wants to play this, and how many bodies he's willing to dig up and expose to the sunlight, he could have PF begging to dismisss the charges. Stay tuned. Was John Mack or Lloyd Blankfein indicted in New York? Why not? Why wasn't the Mayer Brown firm indicted, my 22 and 27 December posts? Or will PF hang his hat there next year? This wouldn't have happened if "Hizzoner da mare", Richard Daley, 1902-76, was still alive.

That's interesting.

Yes, MG. Interesting indeed.

Is ST crazy? Or is ST helping PF line up his next gig? PF was not "forced" to do anything. My conclusion is the opposite of ST's, i.e., PF is covering his rear, figuring: I get reappointed or a Chicago BigLaw partnership. Either way, I win. Is PF familiar with 18 USC 1512(b), the relevant witness intimidation statute, or does he know the law is not applied to federal prosecutors? Guys like PF can "operate" because juries are (still) insufficently skeptical of the feds. If and when they become sufficiently skeptical, PF and his ilk will need to go into a new line of work. They can become La Cosa Nostra "muscle boys".

What's the problem here? Look at the careers of some of our US attorneys like: Mary Jo White, Mike Garcia and Don DeGabrielle. Will Congress investigate the circumstances under which each got his current position?

How different former federal prosecutors see this. VT and ST are both former "Feds". Are they both right?

BC is correct. He too, is a former Fed. What's PF's game here? PF is no dummy. He knows better.

Blago looks like Shakespearian "comic relief" to me.

Here's how I see it: a company in bankruptcy is using the Northern District of Illinois US Attorney's Office as "muscle" to facilitate the sale of Wrigley Field. Who will look into this? The Tribune just decided to release the story? Or is the Tribune giving PF "cover" for "pulling the ripcord" now? This case stinks.


Anonymous said...

What a stinking stew... state, Fed, union, private company... mucky muck ... knee deep...

Maybe the establishment needs to be upended regularly to sweep away the corruption?

PF seems especially spooky...

William L. Anderson said...

Good points. I especially agree with what you said about Fitzgerald's statements when he made the arrests. The government does NOT have a legitimate case here. That's right; it is not legitimate.

Fitzgerald is a media darling because he prosecuted Scooter Libby, but the guy is a rat and a dishonest rat to boot.