The arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, may end up being one of the most serious public corruption cases prosecuted by the Justice Department in many years. The 78-page complaint and accompanying affidavit of FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain reads like something out of a Mickey Spillane novel, particularly the snippets of conversations between Blagojevich and Harris (with the Governor’s wife yelling epithets in the background) recorded on the wiretaps placed on the Governor’s telephones.
The charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery are based on actions including the attempted selling of President-elect Obama’s Senate seat; making financial assistance to the Tribune Company from the Illinois Finance Authority conditional on the firing of editorial board members at the Chicago Tribune who had been critical of Blagojevich; and obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for official actions by the Governor. Probably the most disturbing example of Blagojevich’s alleged corruption is his alleged solicitation of a $50,000 contribution from an executive of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and his discussion of the feasibility of rescinding $8 million in state funds received by the hospital after the contribution was not made. Continue reading . .