Wiretaps and Bugs Used in Rod Blagojevich Investigation
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Agent Robert Grant are giving a press conference on CNN about the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Fitz reminds me more and more of Eliot Ness.
Fitz says "there's politics and there's crime" and sometimes people "blur the lines."
There were others involved. FBI Agent Grant said he called the Governor at 6:00 am and told him there was a warrant for his arrest and the FBI was outside. He asked him to come quietly. The Governor said, "Is this a joke?" and Grant said "No." He went quietly, was handcuffed, and as he was leaving, his wife and kids were "beginning to stir."
The press release is here (pdf) and the 78 page complaint is here (pdf.) In addition to wiretaps, including one on Blagojevich's home phone, Blagojevich's personal office and a conference room were bugged.
The FBI began intercepting conversations in those rooms on the morning of October 22. A second court order was obtained last month allowing those interceptions to continue. On October 29, a court order was signed authorizing the interception of conversations on a hardline telephone used by Blagojevich at his home. That wiretap was extended for 30 days on November 26, according to the affidavit.
Via Raw Story:
Blagojevich and aide allegedly conspired to sell U.S. Senate appointment, engaged in“pay-to-play” schemes and threatened to withhold state assistance to Tribune Companyfor Wrigley Field to induce purge of newspaper editorial writers.....
"The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering," the federal prosecutor said. "They allege that Blagojevich put a 'for sale' sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism. The citizens of Illinois deserve public officials who act solely in the public’s interest, without putting a price tag on government appointments, contracts and decisions."
....A wiretap on Nov. 3 recorded the governor exclaiming to an advisor that the seat "is a [expletive] valuable thing, you don't just give it away for nothing."
Fitzgerald says at the press conference there is no information President Elect Barack Obama was aware what was going on.
Blagojevich's Chief of Staff, John Harris, was also arrested and charged. More Fitz: They charged conspiracy because the substantive crimes weren't carried out. He's hoping others will come forward and cooperate.
Other agencies involved: Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. From the press release:
The probe is part of OperationBoard Games, a five-year-old public corruption investigation of pay-to-play schemes, including insider-dealing, influence-peddling and kickbacks involving private interests and public duties.An SEIU union and Change to Win are involved. A search warrant is being executed now at the offices of Friends of Blagojevich.
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