Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Blagojevich, FrontPage.Com, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:25 am

My piece on Blago’s conviction yesterday is up at Frontpage.com.

A sample:

Blagojevich is the 4th governor since 1973 to be convicted of a felony. The state has also seen an incredible run of other politicians and state officials being marched off to jail. At least 79 Illinois public officials have been convicted of wrongdoing since 1972, including now 4 governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three Chicago city officials, 27 Chicago aldermen, 19 Cook County judges, and seven other Cook County officials.

The unifying factor in the overwhelming majority of these cases was petty, personal monetary aggrandizement. Payoffs to judges for lenient sentences or even acquittals, kickbacks to aldermen, illegal campaign contributions, cash in shoeboxes, “pay to play” payoffs, contracts to cronies — the endless, ridiculous, maddening, depressing litany of abuses Illinois taxpayers have had to endure for most of the 20th century and beyond have made the state a laughingstock.

So it was with the Blagojevich caper. This was the second trial of the former governor in less than a year. The first trial ended ignominiously for the prosecution when the jury could come to an agreement on only 1 of 25 counts in the indictment, convicting Blagojevich of lying to the FBI. A review of that trial by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office discovered that the jurors were confused by the numerous threads of wrongdoing by Blagojevich, including a prosecutorial effort to convict the former governor on several counts of racketeering. Also, Blagojevich’s brother Robert stood trial at the same time on 4 other corruption charges on which the jury could not agree.

For the second trial, the prosecutors streamlined the charges, concentrating on the “pay for play” schemes of Blagojevich to sell Obama’s Senate seat in exchange for either a cabinet post in the president’s administration, or hefty campaign contributions from other players. They also declined to retry Robert Blagojevich and dropped the racketeering complaints altogether.

Unlike his trial last summer, Blagojevich took the stand in his own defense. For seven dramatic days, Blagojevich held the court spellbound as he mounted a spirited defense of his actions in the Obama Senate seat controversy. He endured 3 days of grilling by Assistant US Attorney Reid Schar, who questioned his honesty, his motives, and his character.

The governor’s defense — that he was only doing what all other politicians do in the course of their duties — fell flat with the jury. What he referred to as “horse trading” turned out to be far more than simple political back-scratching. Secret recordings made by Fitzgerald’s office prove that time and again, Blagojevich discussed either large campaign contributions or a lucrative job offer for himself in exchange for appointing a favored politician to the Senate seat.

I make the point at the end of the piece that Blago is a tragic character:

Blagojevich himself said he was “stunned” by his conviction. Herein lies the real Shakespearean tragedy of the disgraced governor’s life and times. For the classical tragic figures - Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear - it was a combination of their flaws as human beings and their inability to recognize that those flaws would lead to their own destruction, which gave their characters pathos and supplied a sense of impending doom that surrounded them.

For the disgraced ex-governor - arrested, impeached, convicted, tried twice, and now found guilty on 17 counts of political malfeasance and corruption - there will be no second act.

Not being aware that your actions are sowing the seeds of your own destruction - or believing, as Blago did that he was getting away with it — is one of those telling personality traits that reveals a shocking amorality. He really thought he could hold up the newly elected  president of the United States for a cabinet post.

Obama smelled trouble and  he and his staff steered clear of  making direct contact with the sleazy governor. But what does it say about the president that he was still willing to negotiate with Blago using 3rd parties? Recall that Blago was still talking to Obama intermediaries just hours before he was arrested.

They should have cut off any and all contact - even through 3rd parties - when it became clear that Blago was trying to get cash for the senate seat.



Filed under: Blagojevich, Blogging, Ethics, Government, Liberal Congress, Middle East, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:20 am

My friend Tom Elia at the New Editor raised this question in an email and it bears looking into.

The fact is, if this mess with Burris had been made public back on February 5 when the Illinois senator submitted his “corrected” affadavit to the Democratic Majority Leader, there is a pretty good chance that the Illinois senator would not have been able to vote on the stimulus bill in the senate on the 13th.

Why? Because pressure would have been building - as it is now - for the “lying little sneak” to resign his seat. It seems surreal but Roland Burris has now changed his story about contacts with Governor Blagojevich’s henchmen about the senate seat at least 4 times - twice yesterday alone. If he had been forced to resign in a similar time period that is shaping up now, there would have been no 60th vote on the stimulus bill in the senate, no cloture, and the bill would have been sent back to conference.

So which Democrats knew of this affidavit and why wasn’t it made public immediately? Burris says he sent the affidavit to the chairman of the impeachment committee who then promptly sat on it until the Chicago Sun Times got wind of the story at which point Burris himself gave it to the newspaper. The committee chairman was Barbara Flynn Currie, House Majority Leader.

Barbara Flynn Currie has represented the 25th Congressional district in the Illinois House since 1979. That district includes Hyde Park - former home for many years of President Barack Obama.

Just sayin’.

So what does Rep. Currie say about the affadavit? Not much:

Currie acknowledged receiving Burris’ letter but said she was unfamiliar with its contents.

After being read Burris’ account of his dealings with Robert Blagojevich, Currie said: “Very odd. I don’t know there is anything actionable here, but I would like to check the record.”

“Unfamiliar with its contents?” And we’re expected to believe that the second ranking Democrat in the Illinois House never opened a letter from the junior senator from her state, that there was no cover letter explaining what was inside, and that Burris’s lawyer had not contacted Currie’s office to see what she was going to do?

The chances that there were other Democrats - local and national - who knew of this “corrected” affidavit and what was in it would seem to be pretty good. What would be your first move as a state party leader if you discovered that your junior senator was basically a liar? Or, even putting the best face on it, was going to be involved in a huge political firestorm as a result of a convenient memory loss?

I would think a call to Illinois’ senior senator Dick Durbin might be in order, don’t you? Durbin, the #2 Democrat in the senate, just might have mentioned it in passing to Harry Reid, wouldn’t you think?

Speculation, yes. And logical? You decide.

The point being, Democrats were willing to sit on this story until the stimulus vote was safely passed. The vote in the senate was Friday the 13th and the Sun Times story appeared the next day. But what if the story had broken on February 6th, the day after Burris says he gave the letter to Currie? The story would have been vying with the stim bill for attention and the calls now emanating from Republican quarters in Illinois for Burris to step down would have been huge news. Who knows what national Republicans would have done? They very well may have demanded Burris recuse himself from voting until the matter was cleared up - a perfectly reasonable request. If that had happened - or if Burris had been pressured to step down as he still may do - there would have been no 60th vote for cloture.

This would seem to be a very powerful incentive for Democrats to cover up Burris’s lies, keeping the country, the people of Illinois, and the opposition in the dark about a matter that, if known at the time of his confirmation by the senate, may have resulted in Burris being rejected.

So what to do with Burris? Here’s Harry Reid prior to Burris’s testimony before the impeachment hearing:

After days in which Senate leaders had demonstrated determined resistance to Burris’ appointment to the Senate by scandal-tainted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Reid praised Burris as “candid and forthright.” And he suggested the testimony Burris is to give Thursday before the state legislature’s impeachment committee could be crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat.

“He’s going to go answer any other questions they might have. He’s not trying to avoid any responsibility and trying to hide anything,” said Reid (D-Nev.) “Once that’s done, we’ll be in a different position and see what we are going to do.”

If that testimony - now under investigation for perjury - was “crucial to his prospects of gaining the seat” what say you now, Harry Reid? You have a sitting senator, appointed by a sleazy governor, who quite possibly perjured himself at a hearing you yourself deemed “crucial” to a decision on his fitness for office. Does the Democratic party stand for ethics and transparency? Did you know of Burris’s problems with the truth and sit on the story until after the stimulus bill was passed?

There are few in Illinois who believe Burris outside of the predictable support he is receiving from the African American community. The Chicago Tribune editorial board blog, Vox Pop, is calling on the senator to resign:

The hole just gets deeper and deeper, and Burris keeps digging. He has no credibility.

And many Democrats are losing theirs.

Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who chaired the impeachment panel, sat on Burris’ amended testimony for more than a week.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed that no Senate appointment by the disgraced Rod Blagojevich would stand—until Blagojevich appointed Burris.

They told Burris to go to the impeachment committee and testify fully and truthfully. And he did not.

And now what? “He went before the state Legislature and he obviously convinced them, but we’ll have to see… I hope he didn’t try to avoid or mislead anyone…” Reid said Tuesday. Durbin is on an overseas trip and hasn’t bothered to comment on the tomfoolery back home. Late Tuesday came word that the Senate Ethics Committee has started a preliminary inquiry.

Finally, remember that Illinois Democrats failed to do right by the people and schedule a special election for this Senate vacancy. If they had done that, voters today might be weighing the lost credibility of candidate Burris, instead of expressing their disgust with Senator Burris.

Disgraceful. Disgraceful all around.

There’s only one honorable action for Burris: resign.

Oh that this all would have been happening last week instead of this week. What might have been…


From commenter Aurelius:

Wasn’t the Senate cloture vote for the stimulus package 61-36 (http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/02/09/stimulus_vote/)? So even with Burris out or incapacitated the vote in favor presumably would be 60. That’s still meets the supermajority requirement. Say if Burris resigned and no one was appointed immediately. Then there would be two Senate seats vacant and the supermajority requirement would be reduced to 59 (3/5 of all senators). So Burris resigning even could be a strategy to pass the bill. The only argument that works is whether the problems with Burris make it politically dangerous for the majority party to press cloture and passage of the stimulus.

My response:

Ah - you are correct - I think. And thinking about it, if it was that desperate of a situation, they probably would have wheeled Ted Kennedy in to vote.

Still, when Reid found out about Burris’s lying - if he found out and I think it a good bet he did - the senate vote was in doubt. So the motivation to cover up still would have been there.


Dan Riehl sends along this old Jim Lindgren post about House Majority Leader Currie. Lindgren is a constituent and thinks quite highly over her. Indeed, Currie has apparently marched to a reformist tune during her career.

But this is a partisan political matter. And, as Lindgren points out, Currie is actually friends with the president. It is not beyond imagining that Currie sat on Burris’s letter so as not to make any trouble for her friend’s efforts to get his stim bill through the senate. Nor is it impossible to imagine Currie ringing up Senator Durkin and relaying the contents of Burris’s “corrected” affidavit and warning of big trouble ahead.

Burris may or may not have affected the outcome of the vote if this scandal had broken a week earlier. But the very fact that the letter was kept quiet shows that the Democrats knew it contained political dynamite and that at the very least, it would have complicated matters in the senate. Reid had no idea when Burris handed in this letter if he had enough votes for cloture. Reason enough to cover up the truth from the people of Illinois and the GOP opposition.



Filed under: Blagojevich, Ethics, Politics — Rick Moran @ 8:57 am

No, Mr. Fake Senator, confirmed as you were under false and misleading pretenses. You are doing a fine job of destroying your reputation yourself. You are a fraud, a liar, a perjurer (not about sex this time my lefty friends), and a slime merchant. You have proven yourself to be just another crooked Chicago pol and your only hope is that Democrats cover for you by saying idiotic stuff like “It could happen to anyone.”

If it had been known that Robert Blagojevich, the crooked governor’s crooked brother, had approached you saying that you could have the senate seat if you contributed $10,000 to Blago’s campaign, the United States Senate would probably not havet confirmed you. So you waited until the FBI approached your lawyers with the news that at least one of your conversations with Blago’s aides (that you didn’t reveal at the impeachment hearing either) was on tape. Hence, your 11th hour “correction” to your sworn affadavit.

If Joe Blow citizen had been caught lying under oath, do you think he would have been given a chance to “correct” his sworn testimony? If he had a good enough and well connected enough lawyer, perhaps. But this is par for the course in Illinois politics and so you will probably skate.

At least some Illinois Democrats are worried. From the New York Times:

“We all have a lot of questions,” State Representative Jack D. Franks said. “He wasn’t forthcoming, and that’s the bottom line. I feel betrayed. The real problem here is the question of trust for the citizens of Illinois. We were supposed to rise to the occasion and, again, Illinois becomes the laughingstock for the nation.”

Mr. Franks was a member of a panel assigned this winter to consider impeaching Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich after federal prosecutors accused him of trying to sell the Senate seat left empty when Barack Obama won the presidency.

In January, the panel heard testimony from Mr. Burris, who had been appointed by Mr. Blagojevich but not yet seated in Washington, about his ties to the governor.

At the time, Mr. Burris described to the lawmakers under oath an occasion on which he had spoken about his desire to become the next senator with one of Mr. Blagojevich’s former chiefs of staff.

But Mr. Burris now acknowledges he also spoke with others, including Mr. Blagojevich’s brother, Mr. Blagojevich’s chief of staff at the time and two close advisers to Mr. Blagojevich.

The senate should kick this lying rascal out and insist that Illinois hold a special election to fill Obama’s unexpired term. That is the only fair way to insure that the citizens of Illinois get a reasonably honest person to represent them.

But it won’t happen. Democrats, both national and state level pols, are fearful that all the slime created by Ali Blago and his 40 Thieves would rub off on the party and make the election of a Republican a real possibility. So they will play along with Mr. Burris and pretend he simply forgot to mention the attempted bribe (as well as his other “forgotten” contacts with Blagojevich’s staff) while counting on Burris’s African American base to run interference for him.

Meanwhile, Illinois Republicans, who are out of power and can do little except complain, are calling for a prosecutor to investigate Burris for perjury charges. Fat lot of good that will do. Here are the “wait and see” Democrats:

“This is troubling,” said State Representative Lou Lang, a Democrat, adding that he intended to study all of Mr. Burris’s previous comments, and hoped that his colleagues would do the same. “My take is that this could still go either way. We could determine that Mr. Burris was simply negligent and had a failing memory in a very honest way. On the other hand, we may find out that he knew more than he was willing to explain.”

“Negligent” in “an honest way?” 

Ain’t Illinois politics grand?

 This blog post originally appeared on The American Thinker



Filed under: Blagojevich, PJ Media, Politics — Rick Moran @ 9:17 am

My latest column at Pajamas Media is up. I look at Blago’s master stroke of changing the dynamics of his personal political situation and throwing the ball into Harry Reid’s court as far as the senate choice is concerned.

A sample:

On the surface, this was a brilliant stroke by Blagojevich. By rolling the dice and naming Burris, he puts the onus of rejecting a supremely qualified African-American candidate smack on Senator Reid’s shoulders while perhaps even currying favor with Illinois blacks. In addition, if Reid were somehow to reverse himself, the drive for impeachment would slow considerably. The process had already been reduced to a crawl as a result of the holidays, and any urgency to impeach Blagojevich would dissipate because the idea was to get him out of office quickly so that he couldn’t name Obama’s successor.

To those who might wonder why this changes anything with regard to impeachment, it is important to remember that in Illinois politics all politicians are guilty until convicted. Then they are simply unelectable. Illinois House Democrats will move no faster than they have to. And if the Senate accepts Burris (or is forced to accept him), impeachment will proceed much more deliberatively.

Burris served from 1979-1991 as comptroller of the state and from 1991-1995 as attorney general. He is currently head of Burris & Lebed Consulting of Chicago, a high powered lobbying and consulting firm that, according to the Chicago Sun Times, has gotten nearly $295,000 in state contracts since 2004. Burris and his partners have donated more than $20,000 to Blagojevich since 2004.

In the news conference introducing him, Burris alluded to the idea that he was pleased Blagojevich had named another African-American to replace Obama and he pleaded with his “good friend” Senator Dick Durbin to talk with him about being accepted by the Senate. And it appears virtually certain that Blagojevich will fight to seat his choice, as Burris said during the press conference, “I welcome the challenge that awaits us.”

Read the whole thing.



Filed under: Blagojevich, Ethics, Government, Media, OBAMANIA!, Presidential Transition — Rick Moran @ 8:51 am

The irony in the left’s total absolution granted the Obama transition team regarding any unethical contacts with Governor Rod Blagojevich or his staff actually makes for some pretty good comedy.

This is the crew that swallowed al-Qaeda propaganda whole with regards to every war “atrocity” ever reported instead of giving their own military or government the benefit of the doubt - including the “Haditha Massacre” where many liberals tried to outdo one another in heaping calumny on innocent soldiers. And now a single report, issued by a politician who presents no other evidence that could clarify or contradict its conclusions, is being trumpeted to the skies as “proof” that no one in the Obama camp did anything wrong.

In short, the left is apt to unquestioningly take what al-Qaeda and Obama say at face value while dismissing the reports of their own government.

Now I will be the first to point out that there were many reports from our military regarding readiness of the Iraqi Army and other political benchmarks set by Congress that were less than honest. And there have been other instances where our government lied outright about the war, specifically in their overly optimistic assessments about progress in bringing peace and security to the provinces.

I am not saying that we should automatically believe everything the government says and not believe al-Qaeda propagandists. I am saying that the left is being hypocritical by not showing the same skepticism they direct towards the Bush Administration on anything and everything they come out with compared to their superficial, eager embrace of the one sided, sole source Obama report on staff contacts with Blago.

It is a selective form of information processing that proves two things; most on the left are partisan hacks and that we are in for at least four years of insufferable hypocrisy from people who are so clueless that they fail to recognize it.

Apparently, we are to suspend disbelief for the duration of Obama’s presidency. No matter that not one single taped conversation with the principles has been released to either confirm the information in the report or make Obama out a liar. Reports in the press on what Fitzy actually has as far as taped conversations between Blagojevich and the Obama team have been wildly overstated (at least according to the report). And yet, when the press assures us that because of the findings in the president-elect’s own manufactured report we can now put this controversy to rest.

In a front page diary at Kos from JedL, we get this bit of certainty about our new president:

Let me emphasize this point: the reason why the release of the Obama report was delayed was to allow Fitzgerald to complete his interviews with the transition team. In other words, everything that Obama’s team has said has been true.

Such unquestioning devotion based on nothing more than a politician’s word - an oxymoron to be sure - would be laughable if this same attitude wasn’t so prevelant on the left.

Steve Bennen:

And as expected, there was nothing to hide. The entire Craig memo is online (.pdf), and after reading it, everything we’d heard from Obama and his team was completely true. Obama never spoke to Blagojevich or his office about the Senate vacancy; no one on Obama’s staff ever had any inappropriate discussions with the governor or his office; and no one Obama’s staff ever had any indication that Blagojevich was engaged in alleged corruption.

The report is quite thorough - in a self serving kind of way. But what in God’s name does anyone expect? If anyone actually thought Obama would put one iota of information in that report that would have contradicted anything he or his aides have said on the matter they belong in an insane asylum.

So what’s the rush, guys? The exoneration of Obama and his team as a result of findings released in their own report after conducting their own investigation would make most people with a molecule of curiosity say “OK, fine. I’m glad they say they’re innocent of any ethical breach or lawbreaking as a newborn babe. Perhaps we might wait upon Fitzgerald for a release of, like, you know, some actual evidence that what they say is true rather than swallowing their report whole like a good little Obamabot?”

But why let a little reality slip into the “Reality Based Community” when anti-intellectualism is so much easier to embrace?


I note that Steven Benen makes the arguement that because Fitzy has the tapes, this means that the Obama camp was “forced” to tell the truth lest any information that came out a a later date would contradict what’s in the report.

One imagines that Obama detractors might not believe these conclusions — “the transition team can’t clear itself of wrongdoing!” — but the review was done with the knowledge that Blagojevich and his office was the subject of FBI wiretaps. The transition team, in other words, knew in advance that any false claims would be easily exposed, so they had a very strong incentive to be completely honest.

First, there is no certainty that the tapes in question will ever see the light of day and the Obama camp could certainly have been told this. No doubt Fitzy would play some of the tapes at any trial of Blagojevich and Harris but since there almost certainly was nothing illegal offered by Blago to the Obama camp, the chances of any Blago-Emanuel converstations aired at trial would be slim. What kind of horse trading that might have gone on would be irrelevant in a criminal trial but might be damaging politically.

Secondly, as we saw with Bill Clinton, parsing words is an art form and statements made in the report could very well contradict what the actual conversations might say because a good lawyer can twist words and facts until they reveal exactly what he wishes them to reveal. The report could have said the sun rises in the west and Obama could come out with a statement that if you are standing upsidedown and facing sideways, of course the sun rises in the west, dummy.

No doubt Bennen et al would swallow that one without any skepticism too.



Filed under: Blagojevich, Ethics, History, Politics — Rick Moran @ 6:53 am

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

I rise today in defense of my home state, my beloved Illinois, where top soil is so rich you can make soup from its deep, black loam and where agriculture was first elevated to a science to become the wonder of the civilized world.

We grow a lot of things in this state; corn, soy beans, hogs, cattle, dairy products, - all in numbers that are the envy of the rest of the world. Our higher education system is second to none in turning out both scholars and people who love to party. ( I would suggest you avoid Macomb, the home of Western Illinois University, on a Saturday night unless indulging in Bacchanalia is your thing.)

Besides that, Illinois features some truly remarkable points of interest. The two story outhouse in Gays, IL is a family favorite as is the captured leg of Santa Anna housed in the state capitol of Springfield. And who would want to miss visiting the largest Catsup bottle in the world located in the bustling tourist hub of Collinsville?

Why, my own little town of Streator has a statue of one of the angels of World War II, the Coffee Pot Lady. During the war, Streator saw about 1.2 million servicemen pass through town (we were a major hub for the old Sante Fe line) and faithfully doling out coffee and sandwiches as the trains stopped for fuel and water were dozens of women who made the long trip for the soldiers seem a little less impersonal and frightening.

I highlight all these natural and man made wonders located in Illinois because it seems that my home state is taking quite a beating in the national press and on blogs of late and I figured someone had to stand four square behind the natural beauty, the slow, deliberate pace of existence, and the emphasis placed on what is really important in life here in the Land of Lincoln; God, guns, and goofy politicians.

Indeed, it is sickening to have commentators who know nothing of Illinois or her people spouting off about the corruption in state and local government here. To all who are not from this state who have found the Blagojevich scandal a perfect opportunity to feel morally superior to us Illinoisans and write vicious, ignorant screeds about our “culture of corruption,” I say butt out!

Just what do you think you know about it, huh? And who do you think you are? If anybody is going to throw bricks at our politicians, it’s us. And we don’t need any help, thanks. We’ve been doing it for 190 years and by God we’ve got it down to a science and don’t need outsiders horning in on our fun. Our rope necktie parties are for locals only - no Cheeseheads or Hawkeyes allowed.

It cuts to me the quick that all these silly, snarky bloggers feel it necessary to disrespect the politicians in my state. Besides that, they are pikers when it comes to revealing the true nature of our political culture. Only native Illinoisans can come up with descriptions of our political heroes like “They are a carefully nurtured nest of nefarious nabobs who see politics as a cross between a slot machine and a gold mine.”

Out of staters don’t even come close and their attempts at describing what they can only dimly understand usually fall flat. For us Illinoisians, it is a matter of DNA; we are born with the ability to appreciate and become outraged over the rank dishonesty, the grasping, conniving, plotting, brazenly evil nature of our politics. It’s so much in our blood that I heard tell the Red Cross has considered keeping donations from Illinoisans in state so as not to infect such political paradises as Minnesota and Kansas. They also fear mixing blood from here with that of people from states like New Jersey or Louisiana. The monster that would create, once let loose upon the country, might doom us all.

Columnists, pundits, and TV talking heads can’t decide whether to opine as if auditioning for The Last Comic Standing by trying to outdo one another with unfunny jokes about the scandal or scream about political corruption being endemic to the way Illinois politicians do business. Endemic?  Tell that to a Chicago pol and he’s liable to give you a wary look, wondering why you think he needs a high colonic and perhaps contemplate how he can make a “pay to play” scheme go by getting a kickback from the enema bag manufacturer.

Besides, the idea of someone from New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, getting into a high dudgeon over corruption in politics is laughable. And that goes for just about anyone else anywhere in the US except maybe Montana where the ratio of guns to crooked pols is no accident. They take clean government very seriously in Big Sky Country. They also are not so politically correct as to have forgotten what good uses a little tar and some feathers can be put to.

For you New Yorkers, I might ask if Tamany Hall rings a bell - a city machine so corrupt that cockroaches were denied membership for being too clean. And all you Pennsylvanians who are on your high horse about Chicago political shenanigans, I direct your attention to your current governor, the Majority Leader of your Assembly, and how many other pols caught up in scandal just this year.

Alaskans have so much to be proud of what with their senior senator, his family, their lone congressman, and half the Republican party on the hook for taking favors from an oil company supplier. Let’s not forget New Jersey and its parade of criminal Newark mayors not to mention governors who resign in disgrace for showing favoritism to their boyfriends.

As for all you good government goofs in Minnesota, I’ve got just two words for you; Al Franken.

Reading a couple of articles about corruption in this state in Wikpedia is hardly the same as having grown up with it. To those of us native to Illinois who have spent our lives watching the comings and goings of governors, legislators, aldermen, lawyers, judges, businessmen, and Chicago city workers as they walk in and out of the jail in Pontiac, scandals like Blagobust are more than mere entertainment. They are reminders to all that “There but for the grace of God and a federal phone tap go I.”

So quit your yapping about stuff you really know little about. Whatever corruption scandals you’ve had in your own state cannot possibly prepare you to think, write, or spout about the Olympian nature of Illinois political stink. Our pols are greedier, more inventive in their criminality, more brazen in their disrespect of the law, and more breathtaking in their deeds of derring-do as they try to stay one step ahead of the prosecutor and two steps ahead of that former business partner they’ve cheated out of ill gotten gains.

Ed “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, the infamous alderman and political thorn in the side of former Chicago Mayor, the late Harold Washington, was quoted as saying that he “talks to everyone as if they’re wearing a wire - even my wife.” Vrdolyak was the target of numerous investigations through the years but prosecutors could never catch him.

In his later years, after losing his clout, Eddie “retired” to private law practice and was considered a wise head in Chicago politics, nurturing many young up and comers, showing them the ropes until he was finally caught in a bribery-kickback scheme involving the sale of a medical school building to a Vrdolyak crony. Those charges may very well stick because Eddie forgot his own ironclad rule; his partner in crime wore a wire to several meetings where the illegal scheme was discussed.

The moral of the story is that not only could an Ed Vrdolyak only exist in Illinois but that only an Illinois pol could go down with such ironic juxtaposition attending his demise. That combination of Greek tragedy and Vaudeville comedy is why the rest of the country is so ill-equipped to comment on our troubles with politicians.

So I’d appreciate it if you just left us alone to wallow in our own muck, thank you.



Filed under: Blagojevich, Ethics, History, Politics — Rick Moran @ 11:41 am

David Axelrod is largely - and rightly - credited with successfully crafting Barack Obama’s campaign message machine and using it to great effect during the campaign.

But before he elected a president,  David Axelrod advised campaigns for a host of politicians including Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley. In fact, he considers himself an expert in “urban politics” - which translated means big city Democratic machine politics.

It is important to note that Republicans have their own “machines” - mostly in the south where “courthouse politics” employs many of the same patronage, kickback, and even “pay to play” schemes you routinely find in Democratic-run big cities. No party has a corner on corruption - which made the Democrat’s “outrage” in 2006 at the “Republican culture of corruption” so laughable.

But Axelrod just elected Mr. Clean as president. And it is important to get a handle on what a man who will be a close advisor to President Obama in the White House thinks of Patrick Fitzgerald’s corruption investigations.

Fitzy has taken down a host of pols in Chicago including aldermen, politically connected businessmen like Tony Rezko, and even 2 of Mayor Daley’s closest aides in city hall.

That last scandal involved serious violations of a court ruling that was supposed to clean up the city’s corrupt patronage system. Chicago mayors (and other big city pols) have used patronage as a means of controlling the Democratic party for decades. But a lawsuit against the practice in Chicago resulted in a ruling that most city jobs had to involve a fair hiring procedure where only the most qualified candidates would get government jobs.

Then in 2005, the Chicago Sun Times broke a fairly routine scandal involving the use of (or, in this case, the non-use) of city trucks - contracts to politically connected (and sometimes mobbed up) trucking firms that paid millions of dollars for little or no work. The city was entertained for weeks with stories of bribes being paid by city employees to steer truck contracts to specific firms, ghost payrolling, lolligagging truckers drawing taxpayer monies for going golfing, and other examples of extraordinary venality on the part of city politicians.

Once Fitzy got involved, the investigation expanded to include the entire patronage system in Chicago. And what prosecutors found was simply astonishing; 30 city pols who routinely violated the patronage law by doctoring documents to show interviews with candidates that never happened, resume tampering, and other fraudulent actions all to get loyal campaign workers city jobs. Fitzy’s investigation eventually reached deep into Daley’s office as two of his closest aides - including his patronage chief Robert Sorich - were convicted in the case.

Here’s how it worked:

In February 2005 a grand jury indicted Sorich for devising a scheme to “provide financial benefits, in the form of city jobs and promotions, in exchange for campaign work.” As part of this scheme, it charged, Sorich and other officials “corrupted the city’s personnel process” by awarding “jobs and promotions” to preselected candidates “through sham and rigged interviews.”

At the Sorich trial Kozicki, then in the buildings department, testified that as managing deputy commissioner he had altered 19-year-old Andrew Ryan’s interview rating to ensure that Ryan scored high enough to get a building inspector’s job for which other applicants were more qualified. Andrew Ryan is the son of Tom Ryan, secretary-treasurer of Carpenters Local 13, a union that was a major financial contributor to Daley’s 2003 reelection campaign.

And Axelrod? Here’s what the new Senior Advisor to the President had to say about it: back in 2006:

As Axelrod has said, a too-zealous prosecutor can look at normal political behavior and suspect impropriety. In a 2006 Vanity Fair interview, the Obama aide complained about Fitzgerald’s scrutiny of Chicago politics.

“He goes after fleas and elephants with the same bazooka,” Axelrod said. “At some point there’s a line … where you begin criminalizing politics in its most innocent form.”

When you practice the art of politics amidst such sleaze and corruption, egregious lawbreaking can, I suppose, seem “innocent.” But what does that reveal about the moral compass of people like Axelrod? When the rest of us are shocked and appalled at the routine and arrogant criminal conduct carried out by powerful people like Daley and Blagojevich, who obviously believe the rules followed by ordinary folk do not apply to them, do we really want moral pygmies like Axelrod anywhere near the seat of national government?

Indeed, Obama himself - now caught in the lie that he had no knowledge that any of his aides were meeting with Blagojevich’s people about his senate seat - has shown a curious lethargy about the entire Blagojevich scandal, especially because he’s known since a week after the election that Blago was shopping his seat to the highest bidder (See Jim Lindgren’s timeline of the scandal that shows how Obama first, made it known he wanted his good friend Valerie Jarrett to get the appointment and within 24 hrs of a phonecon involving Blago and one of his advisors - probably Emanuel - he yanked her name from consideration and gave her a job in the White House.)

The Obama team will vigorously deny they knew anything about Blago’s attempts to sell his senate seat but that just doesn’t pass the smell test. Given how careless Blagojevich was about the spread of such information, it is inconcievable that the president-elect, whose Chicago and Springfield connections are as good as anyone’s, wouldn’t have been aware of what was going on.

But why should they not come forward with the truth? They didn’t break any laws. The reason they won’t and can’t reveal their knowledge in this matter is because to do so would be to reveal a hole in their moral universe that shows that they considered Blago’s auction of the senate seat “innocent” and nothing more than routine political horse trading - routine for the culture of corruption in Chicago and Springfield. Obama was smart enough to see a train wreck coming and pulled his good friend Jarrett from consideration while still allowing Emanuel to have input into the selection process. In short, there were no illegalities but rather an incredible ineptitude in recognizing a moral problem with Blago’s criminality.

I am not sure what this portends for the next 4 years as far as the way the White House will operate. If you have a bunch of people who don’t know or can’t tell what’s moral or immoral as far as political actions are concerned, what kind of scandals will be breaking by this time next year?



Filed under: Blagojevich, Politics, Presidential Transition — Rick Moran @ 1:16 pm

The Blago Blow-Up is beginning to churn like the contents of one’s stomach following a helping of bad escargot. You begin to realize you just ate a heaping, steaming plate of snail flesh and begin to wonder if it will just give you gas or perhaps end up deposited unceremoniously on the floor — a stinking, putrid mass that slowly spreads across the linoleum.

In Rahm Emanuel’s case, I think it about time that we officially begin the “Emanuel Under the Bus Toss Watch.” Reports are circulating that Obama’s trusty aide and Chief of Staff-designate met with Blago’s people several times regarding the open senate seat.

Is it possible Emanuel met with Blago’s people without the president elect knowing? This is important because Obama looked us all in the eye yesterday and said he wasn’t aware of any contact between his staff and Blagojevich regarding the senate seat. Emanuel will probably say he never informed Obama about the meetings but that doesn’t pass the stink test. Obama wanted his best friend and confidante Valerie Jarrett in that seat and simple common sense tells us that his #1 aide would keep the boss informed of his progress.

Not only Obama’s denial of contact rings hollow at this point but how about his solemn promise to have his staff canvass his transition team in order to ferret out anyone who had contact with the Blago crew? If he knew Rahm was dealing with Blago on the senate seat, it means that entire excersise is political theater and no more.

And what of Emanuel, the man who promised us transparency and openness in this Hope and Change administration? Here’s an example of transparency, Chicago style:

Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama’s news conference this morning. He was spotted two hours later in the lobby of Chicago’s City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet.

A Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.

“You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel said. “I’m not going to say a word to you. I’m going to do this with my children. Dont do that. I’m a father. I have two kids. I’m not going to do it.”

Asked, “Can’t you do both?” Emanuel replied, “I’m not as capable as you. I’m going to be a father. I’m allowed to be a father,” and he pushed the reporter’s digital recorder away.

Now that’s the Chicago Way of ditching reporters.

Eventually, we may get another bit of political theater; the spectacle of Emanuel going before the cameras and tearing up as he talks about how he only wanted to give Obama a Christmas present of Valerie Jarrett’s appointment by Blagojevich which is why he wanted it to be a surprise and never told the president-elect. Obama will be by his side, give him a big hug, and the press will forget the whole thing.

That’s one scenario. Another, more likely chain of events ends up with Emanuel’s exposure as a willing participant in what the feds may consider a bribery scheme to secure Jarrett’s appointment as senator. Obama would have no choice but to throw Rahmbo under the bus while questions would continue to be asked about his own knowledge of what was being discussed between his chief of staff and the governor’s people.

How bad is it for Mr. Transparency? Caught in a couple of lies before you’re even sworn in as president would not be good but is hardly impeachable. Bribery is going to be very hard to differentiate from political horse trading which is not illegal but sure gives the lie to Obama’s “Hope and Change” mantra. At the very least, the stink of this scandal will follow Obama into the White House.

He apparently tried to avoid it. Whether because he was unwilling to pay Blago’s price or recognized how exposed he was, this timeline by Jim Lindgren at Volokh shows that something strange happened between the time Obama let it be known that Jarrett was his choice to fill the senate vacancy and his announcement that he was appointing the Chicago machine pol to a White House position:

1. On the weekend of Nov. 8-9, Obama lets it be known that his choice for Senate is Valerie Jarrett. Aides tell WLS-TV in Chicago and CNN, which announces Obama’s choice on Sunday. Nov. 9.

2. On Monday, Nov. 10, Blagojevich holds an incredible 2-hour conference call with multiple consultants: “ROD BLAGOJEVICH, his wife, JOHN HARRIS, Governor General Counsel, and various Washington-D.C. based advisors, including Advisor B,” discussing his corrupt schemes. He follows this with two calls with Advisor A.

3. That very night, Monday, Nov. 10, at 7:56pm, CNN reported:

Two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.

“While he (Obama) thinks she would be a good senator, he wants her in the White House,” one top Obama advisor told CNN Monday.

Over the weekend, Democratic sources had told CNN as well as Chicago television station WLS-TV that Jarrett was Obama’s choice to fill his Senate seat.

So what happened? The likeliest scenario is that one of the many participants in Blagojevich’s Monday phone calls either floated his plans to the Obama transition team to assess their response or tipped off the Obama camp about the reckless ideas that Blagojevich had planned.

In any event, within hours of Blagojevich substantially expanding his circle of confidants, the Obama camp withdrew Jarrett’s name from consideration and attributed that withdrawal to the President’s wanting Jarrett in the White House. And the Obama staffers went out of their way to depict this as Obama’s choice, rather than Jarrett’s, which would have been more common. The report claims Obama’s involvement in the decision and suggests a direct effort to undercut the idea that Obama was pressuring Blagojevich to appoint Jarrett.

I tend to believe that Obama saw a train wreck coming and yanked Jarrett away from trouble while trying to cover his own tracks with double talk about needing Jarrett in the White House. At the time, of course, he didn’t know about the wiretaps on Blago’s phone that could trip him up later.

As a Chicago pol, Obama has a well developed sense of potential exposure to the kind of cesspool politics played out in this entire affair. His instincts must have been on full alert once he was sure that Blago was shopping his seat to the highest bidder - no doubt informed of this by Emanuel who it is inferred through a phonecon between Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris (also arrested) was being threatened with the appointment of someone unpalatable (”Candidate #5″ - Jackson) unless Obama upped the ante.

And speaking of Jackson, this bit of news dug out by the Chicago Tribune is very bad for him. Jesse The Younger’s Campaign finance surrogate had a meeting with Blago’s representative back in October where he offered $1 million in campaign contributions for the senate seat. Jackson had a press conference where he said he had no knowledge of this offer and yet, just last Saturday - three days before Blago’s arrest - he held a fundraiser for Blagojevich where the express purpose was to help him secure the senate seat.

As Gov. Rod Blagojevich was trying to pick Illinois’ next U.S. senator, businessmen with ties to both the governor and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. discussed raising at least $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign as a way to encourage him to pick Jackson for the job, the Tribune has learned.

Blagojevich made an appearance at an Oct. 31 luncheon meeting at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg sponsored by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak, a major Blagojevich supporter who also has fundraising and business ties to the Jackson family, according to several attendees and public records.

Two businessmen who attended the meeting and spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity said that Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi privately told many of the more than two dozen attendees the fundraising effort was aimed at supporting Jackson’s bid for the Senate.

Among the attendees was a Blagojevich fundraiser already under scrutiny by federal investigators, Joliet pharmacist Harish Bhatt.

That meeting led to a Blagojevich fundraiser Saturday in Elmhurst, co-sponsored by Nayak and attended by Jesse Jackson Jr.’s brother, Jonathan, as well as Blagojevich, according to several people who were there. Nayak and Jonathan Jackson go back years and the two even went into business together years ago as part of a land purchase on the South Side.

Blagojevich and the congressman met to discuss the Senate seat on Monday, one day before federal prosecutors arrested Blagojevich and charged him with trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. As part of the charges, prosecutors alleged that Blagojevich was considering awarding the seat to a politician identified as “Senate Candidate 5″ because emissaries for that candidate were promising to raise as much as $1.5 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

Not only does this put Jackson totally out of the running for the senate seat but it is obvious he has not been forthcoming about what he knows with regards to Blago’s attempt to sell the senate seat. The fact that his own brother attended the fundraiser guarantees he knew about it and also knew what price he had to pay in order to get the appointment. This makes the statements he made at his press conference “inoperative” as they say in Chicago.

And what of Obama’s statements? Will they be identified as “misstatements” or perhaps there will be claims that Obama “misspoke?” And what of Emanuel? His reluctance to talk to the press is understandable in light of the fact that there is no good explanation for how he could have spoken to Blago’s people and not told Obama.

The right thing to do would be for Obama, Emanuel, Jarrett, and anyone else who had contact with Blago’s people to stand before the press and tell us what they know - “full hangout route” as they said during Watergate. More likely is the “limited hang-out route” where some minor things will be admitted and other, more serious allegations denied.

That’s the “Washington Way.”



Filed under: Blagojevich, Ethics, Obama-Rezko, Politics, Presidential Transition — Rick Moran @ 7:56 am

This article originally appears in The American Thinker

Those of us who have followed Illinois politics for any length of time are tempted to give the Rod Blagojevich arrest and pending indictment a quick shrug, a knowing smile, and a cynical sigh of know-it-all arrogance. “We’ve seen this before in Illinois, nothing new here, just move along” is the condenscending response to questions from out of staters that usually suffice when some Illinois politico is caught with his fingers in the taxpayer’s cookie jar.

But the Blagojevich True Crime Drama is not criminality as usual in Illinois politics. The malfeasance of Governor Rod Blagojevich is so outrageous, so brazen, so breathtaking in its scope and character that even  jaded journalistic hacks whose beat has been the statehouse for years are shocked. In the long history of official Illinois corruption, the Blagojevich schemes to personally enrich himself, enrich his cronies, and use the power of his office to further his nefarious designs are unprecedented.

“I want to make money” the governor was heard admitting on tape. Evidently, the opportunities that presented themselves for Blagojevich to clean up were too tempting to pass up. Here’s a partial list of the charges via the Chicago Tribune:

Prosecutors alleged Blagojevich sought appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services, secretary of the Energy Department or gain an ambassadorship in the new Obama administration, or get a lucrative job with a union in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate. An Obama spokesman had no immediate comment.

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 when a new tougher law on campaign donations, prompted by the governor’s voracious fundraising, would take effect.

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. The criminal complaint alleges Blagojevich expected an unnamed highway concrete contractor to raise a half-million dollars for his campaign fund in exchange for state money for the tollway project. “If they don’t perform, (expletive) ‘em,” Blagojevich said, according to the complaint.

Blagojevich and Harris also allegedly conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of Blagojevich in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

In addition, federal prosecutors alleged Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts.

The big news, of course, is the governor’s attempt to sell the senate seat of Barack Obama. Incredibly, it appears that he tried to get the best deal by shopping the seat to as many as 7 potential candidates - including, indirectly, Barack Obama.

Blogger Joseph Cannon of Cannonfire details the offer to an unamed high level Obama advisor (evidence suggests it is newly-designated chief of staff Rahm Emanuel). Blagojevich was pushing what Cannon calls “a wacky scheme” where the governor would take over control of a not for profit group - a 501(c)(4) - set up by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates (who would act at the behest of Obama) in exchange for appointing Obama’s choice for the senate seat - his long time friend and advisor Valerie Jarrett.

This is directly from the criminal complaint: (PDF) that details several conversations caught on a federal wiretap:

The advisor asked ROD BLAGOJEVICH if the 501(c)(4) is a real effort or just a vehicle to help ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that it is a real effort but also a place for ROD BLAGOJEVICH to go when he is no longer Governor. The advisor said he likes the Change to Win idea better, and notes that it is more likely to happen because it is one step removed from the President-elect.

“Change to Win” is a labor NGO that the governor was interested in heading up. In order to get that job, Blagojevich had to approach the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Andy Stern. The governor was willing to name a candidate who would be little more than a union toady in order to secure that position. And he was asking “Advisor B” (Emanuel) to make it happen.

according to Advisor B from the President-elect’s perspective, there would be fewer “fingerprints” on the President-elect’s involvement with Change to Win because Change to Win already has an existing stream of revenue and, therefore, “you won’t have stories in four years that they bought you off.”

Was Rahm Emanuel (read Cannon’s reasoning on why the evidence points to the chief of staff) making a counter offer to the governor’s bribe? It’s an interesting question and one that the press may wish to ask the new chief of staff.

In addition to the Obama team, Blagojevich was trying to sell the senate seat to as many as 6 different candidates. One candidate’s representative - “Candidate #5 in the complaint - allegedly offered Blagojevich a substantial bribe for the office. The governor liked that idea and told an aide that if Obama “didn’t give him anything” he would choose Candidate #5.

Who is “Candidate #5?” Speculation is zeroing in on Jesse Jackson, Jr. From the actual complaint via Marc Ambinder:

Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided
Blagojevich with something “tangible up front.” Noting that he was going to meet with Senate
Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and whi Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5. Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.

The only candidate for the senate seat to meet with Obama in the time period mentioned was Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

It should be noted that there is absolutely no evidence that Jackson had any knowledge of these representations to Obama made on his behalf by a fundraiser nor is there any evidence that an “intermediary” informed him of the “negotiations.

If you read all 72 pages of the indictment, you just can’t help being struck by the money grubbing nature of the governor and his mania for money. He had schemes within schemes to extract cash from supporters, cronies, and companies who wished to do business with the state.

His “pay to play” program was particularly lucrative. This was a scheme where Blagojevich friend and campaign financier Antoin “Tony” Rezko pressured companies doing business with the state to contribute to the Blagojevich re-election campaign in exchange for lucrative state contracts. Rezko was convicted of 18 counts of fraud in connection with the scheme and the governor’s name was prominently mentioned during his trial. Others involved in this scheme include Stuart Levine, a GOP mover and shaker in the state.

At least you can say we here in Illinois are bi-partisan when it comes to corruption.

While the selling of the senate seat and pay to play complaints got the most headlines, perhaps the most incredible of all the charges alleged against Blagojevich is his attempted shakedown of the Chicago Tribune.

The Trib not only owns the Chicago Tribune but also the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Owner Sam Zell (who has just filed for bankruptcy) is trying to sell the team and, more importantly, one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in Chicago; Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs.

But the sale of Wrigley field will involve massive taxes - something on the order of $100 million dollars in capital gains. Zell had a approached the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) in order to strike a deal where, according to the criminal complaint, the IFA would take title to Wrigley Field thus saving Zell a lot of cash.

Enter Blagojevich who told his chief of staff John Harris (also arrested today) to make it clear to Zell that no help from the IFA would be forthcoming unless some members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board were fired.

In a November 4 phone call with Harris, Blagojevich told his aide “”our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ‘em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”

Harris reported back on November 11 that Zell “got the message and is very sensitive to the issue.” Later, Harris told Blagojevich that there were “certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he’s (Zell) going after that section.”

No firings have taken place yet and it is doubtful that Zell will make a move now that this deal is in the open. I suppose he saw it as a cost of doing business and $100 million is a lot of cash. But the thought that he would buckle to the whims of this strutting peacock of a politician who wanted journalists who were only doing the job they were being paid to do axed because they were telling the truth about his corruption stinks of rank cowardice.

No doubt over the next few days many aspects of this story will be fleshed out. We will almost certainly be treated to some fancy footwork by the Obama team as they seek to avoid the appearance that anyone connected with the new president came within a country mile of Blagojevich. That may be difficult to do what with the taped conversation between the governor and “Advisor B” and unanswered questions about whether Obama actually discussed the appointment of a new senator with the governor or not.

Obama said in his statement he had no contact with Blagojevich. Unfortunately for the new president, his top aide David Axelrod told Fox News on November 23 that Obama had indeed talked with Blagojevich about the senate seat. The transition has since released a statement saying that Axelrod “misspoke” on November 23.

And I have a bridge over the Chicago River you can have for a song if you believe that one.

The chances are very good that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is far from finished. Meanwhile, the Democratic party in Illinois may be in for a very rough ride as their leader ponders his future - or lack of one - and his associates lawyer up in anticipation of legal trouble.

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