Illinois governor, chief of staff indicted on federal corruption charges
FBI agents arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris Tuesday on a federal indictment that alleges the governor tried to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat for campaign contributions and other personal benefits. Blagojevich also is accused of withholding state assistance to cause the firing of editorial critics, and of requiring campaign contributions in exchange for official actions.
Federal agents recorded telephone conversations between Blagojevich and his advisors in which he allegedly discussed obtaining a well-paying position with a non-profit organization for himself, the placement of his wife on corporate boards where she could earn as much as $150,000 a year, and promises of campaign funds, including cash up front, in exchange for Obama’s vacated seat, according to United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald. “The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Fitzgerald said in a statement. “They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘For Sale’ sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”
A statement released by Blagojevich’s office said only that the indictment would not affect state services. “Families will continue to receive healthcare, seniors and persons with disabilities the support and services they need, the hundreds of thousands of unemployed Illinoisians will still receive assistance,” the statement read. “Our state will continue to ensure health, safety and economic stability for the citizens of Illinois.”
If convicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery, Blagojevich and Harris could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, and/or face maximum fines of $250,000 for each count. Blagojevich was free on bail Tuesday afternoon. Read the entire press release on the indictment. Read the complaint against Blagojevich and Harris.