Now we know that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is candidate #5 in the Gov. Rod Blagojevich alleged scheme to sell Barack Obama's vacant U.S. senate seat. The congressman says he is not a suspect and that he made no play to pay. We'll all know what's went down soon enough. Meanwhile, Rep. Jackson says the governor must go. So does President-elect Obama and that's the sentiment of scores of Illinois pols. Here's my observation on my state's golden governor. It was posted this morning on the ebonyjet.com website.
Blagojevich: The Sixth Sense
now it all adds up
December 10, 2008
By Monroe Anderson
In the wake of the arrest of Governor Rod Blagojevich, what has unfolded in Illinois is not unlike the surprise wrap-up in The Sixth Sense: Once the movie ended, everything that had gone before fell into place.
As late as November 9, CNN was reporting Barack Obama wanted his close friend Valerie Jarrett appointed to his senate seat. It's easy to see why. Jarrett is a wired-Chicago attorney and businesswoman who is one of Michelle and Barack's closest friends. As the co-chair of the transition team, she was the President-elect's first important African American appointment.
Jarrett's selection to fill his senate seat was not Obama's to make. By
Illinois law, it's the governor's decision and his alone. And by
November 11, it was, at best, questionable whether she was
Blagojevich's candidate of choice. According to the transcript of a
Federal wiretapped conversation between the governor and his chief of
staff, John Harris, Blagojevich acknowledged that he knew that Obama
wanted Jarrett for the senate seat but "they're not willing to give me
anything except appreciation. F*** them."
The next day, Jarrett announced that she was not interested in the senate seat and three days later, Obama announced that she would be a senior White House adviser and assistant for intergovernmental relations.
There were a number of other in-retrospect-moments before that.
For the past four years, a double-digit number of associates of the governor have been indicted and convicted and for the past two years, rumors that he was under Federal investigation have been running rampant. One of Blagojevich's pals was Tony Rezko, the political fundraiser. If the name sounds familiar it's because it was first cited by Hillary Clinton, and later by John McCain and Sarah Palin, to muddy up Obama.
In June, Rezko was convicted of fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering. During his criminal trial, prosecutor's focused on Rezko's corrupting influence on the governor's administration; Obama's name was tangentially mentioned. Sentencing for Rezko was put off from October 28 until January 6, ripe with speculation that he was cutting a deal to give up the gov.
Obama camp had long ago given up on Blagojevich, keeping him at arm's
length to assure that he didn't put their candidate in harm's way. The
Illinois governor was not invited to a unity meeting of Democratic
Party governors in June in his hometown at the Chicago Historical
Blagojevich was the only Democratic governor who did not speak in July in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. The Illinois governor was also missing-in-action at Obama's victory rally last month in Chicago's Grant Park.
Following Blagojevich's early morning bust, Patrick Fitzgerald, United States attorney general for the Northern District of Illinois, held a news conference to put it all in 20-20 hindsight.
Describing it as a "political corruption crime spree," Fitzgerald detailed the charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery that led to the arrest of Blagojevich and Harris. The alleged selling of Obama's vacant senate seat for a promise from a yet unnamed candidate of raising a million dollars in campaign funding will certainly have more political fallout. Among other competitive contenders for Obama's U.S. senate seat are U.S. representatives Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis and Luis Gutierrez. Obama's political mentor, Emil Jones, the retiring president of the Illinois state senate, has also expressed an interest in replacing Obama in the nation's upper house.
Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich had threatened to not provide state assistance in the selling of the Cubs and Wrigley Field, which is owned by the Tribune Company, unless the owners replaced the newspaper's editorial board members with journalists who would write nice things about him as the governor. Blagojevich also allegedly sought kickbacks in campaign contributions in exchange for an $8 million in state funding for Chicago Memorial Children's Hospital.
There's more yet to come. Fitzgerald is appealing to those who know of other transgressions by the governor to come forward. All they have to say is "I see corrupt people."
Monroe Anderson is an award-winning journalist who penned op-ed columns for both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. Check out his blog at monroeanderson.typepad.com