Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested this morning in Chicago for attempting to sell the Senate seat recently vacated by Barack Obama. Blogojevich is apparently heard on tape discussing how valuable the appointment is and that "you don't just give something like this away."
Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint cited in an AP report. Looks like Blogo wanted some members of the editorial board who have been critical of his administration canned. Nice.
And according to an early morning update to the Tribune's coverage:
Blagojevich also was alleged to be using a favors list, made up largely of individuals and firms that have state contracts or received taxpayer benefits, from which to conduct a $2.5 million fundraising drive before year's end.
Even Blagojevich's recently announced $1.8 billion plan for new interchanges and "green lanes" on the Illinois Tollway was subject to corruption, prosecutors alleged.
We'll be watching this developing story and updating throughout the day. Post your favorite quotes from the surveillance tape in our comments. Funny, he was a fine neighbor.
Politico says Blogo could technically still make the appointment even from the pokey:
Illinois law allows Blagojevich to make an appointment while in jail. While the decision would be a disaster for Democrats politically, no one is ruling out that prospect. Any candidate appointed by the jailed governor would be immediately tainted, and would face immense hurdles winning on their own in 2010.
Blagojevich could also appoint a caretaker to the seat, but that also would not bode well for Democrats politically. Having a sitting Democratic senator from Illinois appointed by a jailed governor would hurt the party's chances of holding the seat in 2010.
Blagojevich told reporters yesterday, "I don't believe there's any cloud that hangs over me. I think there's nothing but sunshine hanging over me."