What prompted this morning’s arrest

WHAT PROMPTED THIS MORNING’S ARREST…. The investigation into possible corruption surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has been ongoing for three years. What prompted the arrest this morning? Reading over the statement (pdf), issued to the press by Patrick Fitzgerald’s office this morning, I think this might have prompted quick action:

On November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. This discussion occurred the day before the United States Presidential election. ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A discussed the potential Senate seat vacancy. During the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Deputy Governor A that if he is not going to get anything of value for the open Senate seat, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH will take the Senate seat himself: “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.”

Maybe there’s some context here that might make that sound less incriminating. I just don’t know what it might be.

By the way, for those keeping score at home, Blagojevich will be the second consecutive Illinois governor to face felony corruption charges. His predecessor, Gov. George Ryan (R), is currently incarcerated.

Update: Reading more of the charges, it looks like Blogo was basically prepared to sell anything he could. I’m posting more from the statement below, but be forewarned, it includes some inappropriate language.

Later on November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the open Senate seat in a three-way call with JOHN HARRIS and Advisor B, a Washington D.C.-based consultant. ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat. HARRIS stated “we wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than. . .make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to consider his family and that he is “financially” hurting. HARRIS said that they are considering what will help the “financial security” of the Blagojevich family and what will keep ROD BLAGOJEVICH “politically viable.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “I want to make money.” During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, HARRIS, and Advisor B discussed the prospect of working a three-way deal for the open Senate seat. HARRIS noted that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is interested in taking a high-paying position with an organization called “Change to Win,” which is connected to Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”).22 HARRIS suggested that SEIU Official make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of Change to Win and, in exchange, the President-elect could help Change to Win with its legislative agenda on a national level.

Advisor B asked why SEIU Official cannot just give the job to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. HARRIS responded that it would be just a big “give away” for SEIU Official and Change to Win since there are already individuals on the Change to Win payroll doing the functions of the position that would be created for ROD BLAGOJEVICH. HARRIS said that Change to Win will want to trade the job for ROD BLAGOJEVICH for something from the President-elect. HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that for him to give up the governorship for the Change to Win position, the Change to Win position must pay a lot more than he is getting paid right now. Advisor B said that he liked the idea of the three-way deal. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is interested in making $250,000 to $300,000 and being on some organization boards. Advisor B said they should leverage the Presidentelect’s desire to have Senate Candidate 1 appointed to the Senate seat in order to get a head position with Change to Win and a salary. Advisor B agreed that the three-way deal would be a better plan than ROD BLAGOJEVICH appointing Senate Candidate 2 to the Senate seat and getting more done as Governor. 100. On November 8, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS about the Senate seat. During the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS discussed whether it would be possible to obtain a financial benefit for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife in relation to the Senate seat. Specifically, ROD BLAGOJEVICH referred to his wife’s Series 7 license23 and asked “is there a play here, with these guys, with her” to work for a firm in Washington or New York at a significantly better salary than she is making now. Also, ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted to know whether SEIU could do something to get his wife a position at Change to Win until ROD BLAGOJEVICH could take a position at Change to Win.

On November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, his wife, JOHN HARRIS, Governor General Counsel, and various Washington-D.C. based advisors, including Advisor B, discussed the open Senate seat during a conference call. (The Washington D.C.-based advisors to ROD BLAGOJEVICH are believed to have participated on this call from Washington D.C.). Various individuals participated at different times during the call. The call lasted for approximately two hours, and what follows are simply summaries of various portions of the two-hour call.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH expressed his interest in figuring out a way to make money and build some financial security, while at the same time potentially participating in the political arena again. ROD BLAGOJEVICH mentioned the Senate seat, the dynamics of a new Presidential administration with the strong contacts that ROD BLAGOJEVICH has in it, and asked what if anything he can do to make that work for him and his wife and his responsibilities as Governor of Illinois. ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested during the call that he could name himself to the open Senate seat to avoid impeachment by the State of Illinois legislature. ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked what he can get from the President-elect for the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that Governor General Counsel believes the President-elect can get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the President-elect’s pick to the Senate. Governor General Counsel asked, “can [the President-elect] help in the private sector. . . where it wouldn’t be tied to him? . . .I mean, so it wouldn’t necessarily look like one for the other.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife suggested during the call that she is qualified to sit on corporate boards and has a background in real estate and appraisals. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether there is something that could be done with his wife’s “series 7” license in terms of working out a deal for the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is “struggling” financially and does “not want to be Governor for the next two years.”

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” Later in the phone call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that absent getting something back, ROD BLAGOJEVICH will not pick Senate Candidate

HARRIS re-stated ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s financial security as well as maintain his political viability. HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the Presidentelect where SEIU could help the President-elect with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s appointment of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH would obtain a position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get something favorable from the President-elect in the future.

* I’d earlier referred to Fitzgerald’s statement has an “indictment.” I’ve corrected the post.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.