Blago Lesson: It’s Okay to Sell a Senate Seat, So Long as You Don’t Lie about It

All you Californians ought to be getting awfully nervous about Senate-Select Carly Fiorina about now. Because the lesson I take from the Rod Blagojevich verdict–he was found guilty of just one charge of lying to the FBI, while the jury remained deadlocked on 23 other charges–is that it’s okay to sell a Senate seat, so long as you don’t lie about it.

A federal jury today convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of only one count against him: lying to the FBI. Jurors said they were deadlocked on the other 23 counts against the former governor, and all four counts against his brother Robert.

Mind you, prosecutors immediately told the judge they’d be back to retry the remaining counts.

But in spite of the fact that Blago appears to be headed for jail, this is not a big victory against corruption.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    Let’s revisit what Chris Hayes wrote 20 months ago, shall we?

    Playing devil’s advocate for a moment. Obviously, if the tapes areaccurate, what Blagojevich was odious and unethical and dishonorable.But was it illegal?

    Here’s why I ask: the Tribune’s reporting that not only was Jesse Jackson Jr. candidate five,but that Blago had a meeting with a business man named Raghuveer Nayakwho’s a fundraiser for both men, and it was during that conversation that Nayak offered to raise as much as $1.5 million for Blago’s campaignfund if he gave Jackson the seat.

    OK, it’s possible that Jackson had no idea these folks (including, itappears, his brother) were scheming on his behalf. But here’s myquestion: My understanding of the law is that there’s a distinctionbetween personal pecuniary interests/compensation and campaignfundraising. In other words: it would be manifestly illegal, obviously,if Blago was “selling” the seat in the sense of trading it fro cash forhimself. But is trading the seat for fundraising help really illegal?and if so, doesn’t that mean that a huge percentage of politicaltransactions are illegal, including all those conversations during theprimary about Obama inducing HRC to drop out in exchange for fundraising help to retire her debt?

    I’m not defending this at all. Let me make that clear. I’m saying thatpoliticians trade things for fundraising help all the time, it’s half of what they do. So where’s the line where that becomes illegal?

    • Mary says:

      I actually think you are raising a good point and one that is even more central given the recent treatment of theft of honest services prosecutions (Blago’s charges were amended around that, but still it’s a big issue now).

      I believe the whole theme of the Obama admin was that making deals was pragmatic politics – you give something, you get something (granted, they gave a public mandate and “got” no public option, so I’m not pointing to them as good gamers).

      And everyone says things when they think they have privacy they wouldn’t say or wouldn’t say in the same way publically.

      Going to prison is a big fucking deal. I’m not sure being a jerk who is a piss poor, in-it-for-himself, politician who tries to shove things down peoples throats and get his own way is something that children should watch their father go to prison over or have the whole family and its finances fight for years longer.

      There’s nothing about this case that has been “finest hour” material imo, ymmv.

    • AitchD says:

      US Attorney Fitzgerald explained his interpretation of the legal distinction between political give-and-take quid pro quo, which he said is okay, and the apparent self-serving financial tribute he was soliciting and demanding. Sometimes Fitz can’t get out of his own way. It sounded disingenuous then and it still does.

      Apparently Fitzgerald wanted to wait longer to get an actual payoff, but he had to arrest Blago before Blago destroyed the hospital funding deal.

      • Cynthia Kouril says:

        Apparently Fitzgerald wanted to wait longer to get an actual payoff, but he had to arrest Blago before Blago destroyed the hospital funding deal.

        I thought they had to jump in and arrest before Blago actually made the appointment via sale of the seat, because that would have precipitated a constitutional crisis.

        Does the Senate go ahead an seat the senator who bought the seat? Or are they deprived of that 100th vote, and the Dems of their 60th vote, for months or years while the case winds it’s way through the courts?

        Sometimes you have to jump the gun a bit to prevent an irrepable harm. So you end up with the case you have, not the case you could have had if you had been able to wait longer.

        If the prosecution had fucked up the Senate like that, you’d all be screaming that PatFitz was GOP operative. He did the non political thing, even though it made his own case more diffficult to prove.

        • AitchD says:

          Makes perfectly good sense, but it’s also hypothetical.

          Fitzgerald could have waited until the deal was secured, promises were made, and he could have made the arrest before the formal appointment was announced ‘officially’.

          I may be mistaken, but I think Fitzgerald gave the children’s hospital funding crisis as his reason for cutting the surveillance a tad short.

          • SparklestheIguana says:

            I’m pretty sure it was the sale of the Senate seat that was about to go down that made Fitzgerald order the arrest.

        • Mary says:

          What is buying the seat? That’s the real question.

          Fitzgerald, for example, got his appointment as Chitown USA bc of political dealmaking. Blago wasn’t ever – as best I can tell from the coverage and I don’t claim to have followed all of it – talking about getting direct $$ into his own pocket. He was talkinag about $ to campaigns, but not $$ to buy him a porsche.

          That kind of dealmaking is done a lot – would it have been illegal for him to get word to Obama that Blago would seat Obama’s pick to be his successor if Obama would come in and do xyz fundraising for Blago? I’m not sold that it would be. OTOH, I was very turned off by the trial by press conf, so I’m probably bringing that bias to this result.

        • scribe says:

          Fitz may have given the hospital funding crisis as his reason for going when he did, but as I recall it the real reason was that the Tribune was going to run a story about how Fitz was tapping Blago’s phones.

          • AitchD says:

            Wasn’t Blago already tipped off? Still & All: Fitz Did It For The Kids. Actually, he gave three reasons for the timing of the arrest: Blago was shaking down a casino deal; he was shaking down the Tribune over critical writing; and the children’s hospital. Seems the senate seat was a bonus for the prosecution. Anyone think Emanuel or someone close to him, um, offered Fitz a re-appointment if he’d, um, find some probable cause to get a warrant? Fitz’s USA job was up for grabs under the new administration. Anyone think Blago fuckened up the foregone expectation to appoint the (cough) best man or woman?

  2. Teddy Partridge says:

    Can you be a little more specific about Carleton Sneed, please?

    Not sure I see the relationship here.

    • emptywheel says:

      Just thinking out loud: who wants to be Senator really bad, has a Gov of her party, and has a lot of money.

      Granted, I always mistake eMeg and Carlyfornia, so the real danger would be if eMeg were angling to be Senator.

      • Twain says:

        Carly scares me. Not a good Senator for Ca. And Boxer has done a pretty good job – except for supporting HoJo.

      • bmaz says:

        The differance (with one of them French things there on top of the appropriate letter to show my culture) you see is that as tea partying, shallow and arrogant as EMeg is, at least she did not drive her company into the ground as Fiorina did. Fiorina took over what had been been a wildly successful and appreciated company from the get go and had a tradition of management acumen from and goodwill from the original founders, and screwed it up terribly. Then she raked as she was getting kicked out the door as a huge and unmitigated failure.

        Not that EMeg is any Einstein understand you, but jeebus. Only a freaking delusional senile gluehorse like McCain would even consider consulting, much less touting, Fiorina. She is like Alvin Greene with more money. But playing at that level means you are a wonderkind, even if the facts prove you an abject failure and deluded idiot. But a fuck up is a fuck up; whether the cloistered business leaders in your financial stratosphere are willing to admit it or not. In Fiorina’s case, believe it or not, they actually DO admit it; but the media treat her as if she is Warren Buffet or something in spite of the facts. Simply amazing. And then there is the babble she gave on the McCain campaign’s behalf before they wised up and benched her. When even The Old Gluehorse realizes you are full of it and cannot fathom the nonsense you are pitching; the gig is truly up.

        Why do the media give this woman one iota of credibility???

  3. AitchD says:

    Who should The Rule be named for? Al Capone? Bill Clinton? Martha Stewart? Scooter Libby? Rod Blagojevich?

      • freepatriot says:

        Must admit that this doesn’t pass the smell test to me

        it’s Chicago

        this sounds about par for the course

        teh fookin Black Sox were acquitted in Chicago

        anything can happen …

    • bmaz says:

      What is the difference between Blago and the Senate seat and Obama and the public option vis a vis the health industry?

      Well, the difference is that Obama completed his craven sale.

  4. MadDog says:

    No word yet seeping out from the jurors on just how the vote stood on the other counts, but perhaps in the hours and days to come.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      They were 11-1 to convict on the selling of the Senate seat but couldn’t bring around the one juror.

  5. sunshine says:

    He stood up for the laborers, the working men and women against the bankers. The day after he gets arrested. Do you think Chicagoans forgot???

    Bank of America

    Blagojevich threatened to stop the state’s dealings with Bank of America Corp. over a shut-down factory in Chicago. On December 8, 2008 (the day before his arrest), all state agencies were ordered to stop conducting business with Bank of America to pressure the company to make the loans. Blagojevich said the biggest U.S. retail bank would not get any more state business unless it restored credit to Republic Windows and Doors, whose workers were staging a sit-in. John Douglas, a former general counsel for the FDIC and attorney for Bank of America, called Blagojevich’s gambit dangerous.[66][67]

    • mrwebster says:

      A buddy has me convinced this case is also related to the Spitzer resignation. A message had to be sent. In the case of Spitzer he went after Wall Street. From what I read, and it wasn’t much, the use of wiretaps that caught Spitzer were highly unusal. Somebody was going after his personal life.

      And here we have the governor of one of the largest states getting up front and threatening the banksters. Has any Dem governor taken to the street to go after the banksters, the for foreclosure artists, the financial pimps? Lesson learned.

      Also, I say this without knowing much of Blago’s record as a governor. But it seems given the nature of the accusations against Blago, they seemed dubious to many people from the start. But are we falling into the right wing meme/trap that only morally acceptable people can rule effectively.

      You see, the trap is then the right wing declares or more accurately smears the personality of the candidate or leader. Look at all the personal smears against Obama during the election reaching the point where that little arse sucker George Stepanopolous asks and hits candidate Obama on his lack of a fucking flag pin.

      I get very suspicious when the mass media engages in marginalizing those on the left, and I assume Blago was a traditonal IL liberal Dem. Look what happened to Nader, and even to Sherrod who thankfully refused to be marginalized and politized to the shame of Obama’s administration.

  6. robbep says:

    I cldnt disagree more, talking about selling a senate seat and doing it are two different things. There was no actual crime committed and that is why the jury cldnt convict him on 99% of the charges.

    • AitchD says:

      The senate seat was only one part of the complaint and charges. Maybe Blago got off on most of the counts, but it’s not easy to argue that he’s an innocent victim of cherry-picking aggression. He was removed from office; his alleged schemes all failed; it wasn’t important to waste any more energy or money to beat the defense lawyers.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      On conspiracy charges, you don’t have to have a completed act in order to convict. There has to be intent, and steps taken in the direction of an act. The jury was instructed on this, the prosecution hammered it home, but apparently jurors weren’t comfortable with it.

  7. burnt says:

    I think the real Blago lesson is the same as the Martha Stewart lesson: never, ever talk to the FBI. And if for some reason one’s ego or whatever compels one to speak with the nice FBI agents then bring a lawyer and bring one’s own video camera. Of course, the FBI won’t let one use one’s own camera. Bringing one’s own camera to the interview is just to remind one that talking to the FBI–even if one hasn’t done anything–is stupid.

    • bmaz says:

      Ya think???????

      Jeebus, it is shocking how many high level people and Harvard educated genius lawyers do not understand that YOU DON’T TALK TO COPS UNLESS THE RETURN IS IN BLACK AND WHITE ON PAPER WITH BLUE INK SIGNATURES.

      It is really that simple.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      Blago did have a lawyer present at the FBI interview. He is now saying it’s his word against the FBI’s since they wouldn’t allow a court reporter…

  8. fatster says:

    O/T. It’s probably too late, but at least she’s making the effort.

    Sandra Day O’Connor’s New Judgment: Judicial Campaign Reform Is Necessary


    • Teddy Partridge says:

      Jeebus why won’t this awful woman just shut up already, she’s done enough damage with Bush v Gore, just GO!

        • scribe says:

          There’s a difference between what we got and Lieberman? Other than when the President speaks we don’t get a nails-on-chalkboard whine.

      • fatster says:

        I know she did, and I agree with you. But, she does see the dangers of having big money a major negative impact on the judiciary. And we do need more voices addressing this issue.

  9. cregan says:

    Wheel, I agree with your post (though, buying a Senate seat is practiced pols and would be pols on all sides–far too much).

    Interesting to me, Blago is convicted of lying about……That he kept a firewall between politics and governing or some such thing. I think nearly all politicians have made such statements and all of them have likely lied about it.

    It was kind of like he was convicted of being a politician–which maybe should happen more often.

  10. sunshine says:

    Why is nothing said about Blago helping Republic Windows & Doors by threatening to stop all gov biz for the entire state of Illinois with BofA; (think K. Lewis, think the 2nd largest non oil co in US, and the world’s 3rd largest wealth manager); for not giving them a loan at the height of the financial meltdown which caused a world wide recession? Is this just peanuts? US helped them but they didn’t want to help a US co and the laborers who worked for them.

    Blagojevich, a Democrat, yesterday said the biggest U.S. retail bank won’t get any more state business unless it restores credit to Republic Windows & Doors, whose workers are staging a sit-in. John Douglas, an attorney with Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker in Atlanta, said Blagojevich and Senator Christopher Dodd — who called on General Motors Corp. to fire Chief Executive Rick Wagoner — can’t tell companies how to run their business.

    “This is a very dangerous thing,” said Douglas, who was at the FDIC from 1987 to 1989 and has since represented financial institutions including Bank of America. “There becomes an expectation that these government officials have some say over what the institution does,” he said in an interview.

    Expectation the gov should have some say in what happens to the money they gave the banks, what an unreasonable thought. snark. What did BofA do with the money from the taxpayers? CEO K Lewis paid himself

    “In 2008, he earned a total compensation of $9,003,467, which included a base salary of $1,500,000, stocks granted of $4,255,012, and options granted of $2,973,330.[4]”

    Bank of America has received $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury as part of its effort to boost capital, while Merrill Lynch & Co. is receiving $10 billion. Bank of America is buying Merrill, the world’s largest securities brokerage. The taxpayer funds were intended to help Republic Windows and other companies preserve jobs, Blagojevich said at a news conference.

    I was absolutly amazed at a pol standing with strikers and helping them out. It was as powerful for me as any thing I have ever seen a pol do ever!!!

    • AitchD says:

      But, sunshine, much has already been said, most recently here by sunshine @ 12.

      Very very much was also reported all over and under the news canopy when it took place in December 2008.

      He was portrayed as a hero, of course. Banks were being blamed for the recession and meltdown.

      You have to wonder if he would have acted the same before the financial panic that made the banks easy targets.

  11. joanneleon says:

    I lost a lot of respect for Fitzgerald over this. And DoJ, but I haven’t had respect for the DoJ in some time now anyway. And to be honest, after the Libby trial, my respect for Fitzgerald was already waning.

    The whole thing just looks like revenge because Blago didn’t appoint Obama’s and Rahm’s choice, Valerie Jarrett.

    Throwing 24 counts at him was ridiculous. Now Fitzgerald looks like a fool, having essentially lost on 23 of 24 charges, and vowing to retry. Blago has nothing left. He’s a ruined man. And Chicago’s got a lot of other, bigger problems than a questionable political quid pro quo that everyone knows is done all the time and that everyone knows is very selective prosecution.

    Mary Mitchell of Chicago Sun Times was on MSNBC earlier saying that this is a prosecution’s nightmare, that the people of Chicago don’t care about this and that they want the resources used to deal with the rampant killing and other crime going on in the city.

    I really have to wonder about Fitzgerald, and whether this is entirely his call, or if he’s being pressured.

    I mean, DoJ lets Tom DeLay walk, protects Bybee and Yoo, Fitz lets Rove and Cheney walk, and probably others, but he throws the book at a weak character like Blago who’s already been impeached and bankrupted, and he’s got a hard on for retrying Blago? WTF? This is the great Patrick Fitzgerald? Frankly, I don’t think he’s so great anymore.

    It smells. And it’s stupid.

      • joanneleon says:

        Fitzgerald has a long and distinguished career for damage control. He’s the go-to guy for it.

        I didn’t know that about Fitzgerald. I’d always heard that he was squeaky clean, slayer of corruption, etc.

        But this one just smells, IMHO. Big time. There’s more to it that never made it into the trial/prosecution’s case, I suspect. And the whole thing with Rove and Cheney, and how Fitzgerald *only* brings charges for cases he will definitely win, etc. Then he goes and throws 24 charges at Blago and loses on 23 of them? No, there’s a reason why he brought all those charges, and there’s a reason why he arrested Blago when he did. And I don’t think it was on behalf of some children’s hospital. Geez. They had to make it about a children’s hospital?

        Note: I’m not defending Blago here, he’s just as corrupt as the rest of them. It’s the way this whole thing went down, and the stench of manipulation from higher places that really gets to me. Plus, they hypocrisy.

    • sunshine says:

      I agree. If Fitz wants another trial, he can pay for it personally, Chicago has better things to do with their money.

      When they charge some one with 10 + charges they are telling a jury “our case is so weak we have to throw the book at them and hope you get confused and convict on something/anything’. Jurists are not that stupid.

      I wasn’t one of those drooling over Fitz during the Libby trial. And when he arrested Blago after his sit in with Republic and treat to halt biz with BofA then I knew Fitz strings were being pulled. IMO

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      Corruption is serious. It has costs. It has victims. Every citizen of Illinois is a victim of political corruption – from George Ryan, from Rod Blagojevich, from the host of other governors and government officials who have conspired and cheated in myriad ways. I think Fitzgerald probably structured the indictment too optimistically – throwing too much stuff at the wall, 24 charges was probably overkill – but Blago needed to be stopped in his tracks. And the retrial should go forward.

      • freepatriot says:

        Corruption is serious. It has costs. It has victims

        all that is true, but …

        corruption is like Air

        it’s gonna be around for a while

        power corrupts

        absolute power corrupts absolutely

        and power attract corruptible people

        we have to deal with that

        if we can’t cure corruption, we have to manage it

        and this was a poor use of management powers

        • AitchD says:

          The only “absolute power” in our society is capital punishment. When we eliminate it (forever), we can begin to form a more perfect union.

          • freepatriot says:

            you misunderestimate what power really is

            the power to decide where to build an electrical generation plant

            the power to decide who can get married

            the power to decide to launch an invasion

            all of these thing affect you

            probably a lot more than the power to punish criminals

            and we’re workin on that “More Perfect Union” as we speak …

            • AitchD says:

              I’ll select one of your examples: “the power to decide to launch an invasion”.

              The Sterling Hayden character of Gen. Jack D, Ripper in Dr. Strangelove comes to mind. That’s psychosis, which trumps even ‘absolute power’.

              Another: “the power to decide where to build an electrical generation plant”. Presumably a lot of people have to be persuaded, convinced, bribed, or coerced. Very corrupt but more of a triumph of the will than an absolute power. No? Yes?

              And: “the power to decide who can get married”. In our society that’s become a regional power, so it’s hardly ‘absolute’.

              Did you alter the debate from ‘absolute power’ to mere ‘power’? Yes? No?

    • jdmckay0 says:

      Blago has nothing left. He’s a ruined man. And Chicago’s got a lot of other, bigger problems than a questionable political quid pro quo (…)

      Near 2 yrs into BO’s presidency, as I take stock of entire US landscape, (among other things) what I notice and regard as current order of things is fact that nexus of corrupt politics corrupt (especially big) business/finance is saturating… it dominates momentum everywhere, rarely on purpose. More often, efforts seem to perpetuate one form of fraud/corrupt interest etc. The utter vacum of public thoughtful, considered, persuasive discussion as to what constitutes principled public interest… for a supposedly modern society, I find this astounding.

      My point is that, given wide swath of BushCo’s crime spree, and especially BO’s utter failure to make any distinctions whatsoever in what actually constituted crimes, the fuzzy line of exactly what crime is has gotten wider, grown deeper roots, and become more thoroughly established in economic/social/political idiocy. If there’s one applicable mantra characterizing the Bush era, in my mind it is: CRIME PAYS.

      It’s been a while, but I read most of Blago stuff when it was happening. I read available phone transcripts, watched/listened to the guy. I was firmly persuaded he was not just utterly corrupt, but so blatantly so as to be near comical… almost a caricature of political corruption.

      As I see it, the failure of this prosecution to, in some meaningful manner, make a statement as to our society’s more’s regarding appropriate behavior in public office… this issue is much more representative of an utterly defrocked judicial system then a demand (as you say) to let the poor guy go, he’s suffered enough.

      Whatever Fitz’ shortcomings… in this affair or Rove (Plame leak), pretty clear to me he (Fitz) was way up on the scale wrt moral grounding w/in the larger group of US attnys… particularly after BushCo’s polluting that pool.

      At this point not too much shocks me any more, but… I get that queazy feeling in stomach recently reading WSJ/Nat. Review (etc.) “opinion” holding Fitz up as a wayward, “special interest” pawn out to criminalize (in words of WSJ OpED couple weeks ago) both business and politics.

      I see this as exemplary of the times, not as isolated incident. When you say:

      Tom DeLay walk, protects Bybee and Yoo, Fitz lets Rove and Cheney walk, and probably others,

      … well, actually, there’s a lot of others. Siegleman thingie, virtually no followup to all the “singing” we were told Abramohoff was doing (eg. that was Delay thing you mentioned), no cleanup of DOJ under BO or of US atty’s… And now, having failed to identify the crooks, BO has left himself getting full frontal assault every day from those same guys (BO’s a Nazi) that got us here…

      I don’t know, sometimes I just got’a sit back and marvel at the utter absurdity of it all.

      That Sarah Palin seems to have more influence defining public opinion regarding climate issues then Mann…

      We’re in a world of hurt folks… literally.

      I live in Albuquerque, we have large AFB here (Kirtland). Last week I stumbled into conversation w/a (formerly) retired career AF officer (30 yrs) who was called back into 2 Iraq tours under Bush’s aggressive policies. He was involved in some type of logistics… moving equipment here and there and such. He owns a very good building supply here, and I’m doing big “green” improvements on our house.

      Anyway, I was there to pick up bunch of stuff… we got to talking. Among other things, he said one of the big defense contractors (he wouldn’t give name, but implied it was General Dynamics) had a $5 billion contract in Iraq for… “linguistic services” (his term).

      Floored me. (No idea if this was mentioned in WP’s article a few weeks ago).

      I think this is all related, personally. That kind of cash, going to “services” for which these guys not only have minimal expertise, but services which DOD volitionally eliminated (largely due to BushCo’s adherance to only fundy X’stian hiring policies) eliminated tons of US muslim citizens very capable of doing this work… for a pittance of that contract value, …

      Anyone remember Sibel Edmonds?

  12. Mary says:

    @20 – we have some common ground ;) It does look like Blago may owe whoever handled voire dire big, bc some of the reports are that there as only one holdout vote against convicting him on another charge relating to the sale of the Senate seat, but even on that, the jurors talking were saying things like that was the best evidence of the other charges – so it’s kind of like they were looking at a huge list of charges, most of which looked shakey, and saying – well, this one looks a little better than the others, maybe we should convict on it?

    I saw this earlier at Wonkette and thought it was funny,

    The Blagojevich Jury has requested several million dollars, because they’re not going to come to a decision for “fucking nothing.”

    Read more at Wonkette:

    Reading comments while I’m typing and – DAMN, there’s Freep again!

    @28 – PRetty much agree.

    @ 34 – I might be good at telling someone else to stay mum, but I’d be lousey at actually doing it myself.

  13. liberalarts says:

    While we’re on the quid pro quo line, what did Ruth Ann Minner get for appointing Biden’s chief of staff to fill out Biden’s senate term? I have never, not once, heard so much as a whisper about that exchange. I did read, at the time, that Minner wanted to appoint someone else. But that wind blown rumor died away quickly.

    Plenty of deals go down all the time. Who gets chopped seems to be entirely a matter of who’s in the hot seat at the time. Or whose ox is being gored. Blago, a sleaze, I’ll grant, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. And he has a stupidly big mouth. Nobody, NOBODY, gives away something as valuable as a senate seat for nothing.

  14. SparklestheIguana says:

    Please, people….Blago’s arrest had nothing to do with a window factory or banksters. The fact that Blago is a Democrat is immaterial (and I would hardly call him a “traditional IL liberal Dem”, whatever that is).

    He was a dirty corrupt lazy wheeler dealer who didn’t want to be governor. Whenever his staff came looking for him to make some important decision he was either hiding in the closet or the bathroom, or at the bowling lanes. Politics for him was an avenue for personal enrichment – it’s ALL OVER THE TAPES. He wanted high paying Board appointments for Patti. He wanted to be head of HHS. He wanted money because his and Patti’s spending was out of control. None of these illegal financial acts were consummated (except Patti’s real estate commissions, which were not charged as part of the case). But the INTENT was there.

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t disagree with any of that; except the retrying him part. On that, I agree completely with those that have said it would be a waste of time and resources. Huge waste. The prosecution got their ass kicked by a clown that didn’t even put on a freaking defense. And that was after they denied him all kinds of discovery and witnesses. The star of stars prosecutor in the DOJ supervised the whole gig. And they got waxed.

      Blago is convicted of a Federal felony. He has been impeached and bankrupted. What would retrying him accomplish? The DOJ couldn’t find one measly charge to file on Tom DeLay, but they want to waste millions in prosecutorial and court time to retry Blago when they have at least one conviction already? That is stupid, wasteful and petty. Let it go.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Yeah, but you don’t have the black-eye.

        Maybe Fitzy ain’t Elliot Ness…

        Why didn’t he call for change of venue to Phoenix… the jury

        there would have hung ’em…

  15. SparklestheIguana says:

    The fact that he’s been impeached and bankrupted has nothing to do with a decision to retry – not sure why it would. It’s not like the goal of the government was to make sure he was impeached and bankrupted – impeachment being a political process and bankrupt being his own personal dang fault. What would retrying accomplish? For one, it might get a bunch more convictions. If the charges were legitimate before the trial started, why are they not legitimate now? Mistrial on 23 counts doesn’t make those counts any less legitimate. We already know that 11 people wanted to convict him on selling the Senate seat. Why would the government not take that and run with it? Yes, they did get their ass kicked by a clown. So they’ll narrow the number of counts, they’ll call witnesses maybe they should’ve called the first time (Rezko, Levine). Maybe they’ll get lucky and the clown will testify.

    I don’t know, maybe you have to live in Illinois and live with the political corruption all around you all the time to understand how harmful and vile and destructive it is, and that it has to be rooted out and punished at all costs. To me corruption is like cancer. It’s killing the political body and I have no problem with the government spending more resources to take a second whack at a giant tumor. It happens all the time. Are you suggesting all retrials are a waste of resources?

      • cregan says:

        I think there is an above average chance the one conviction will have a successful appeal.

        Especially since the lie he told was essentially what every politician lies about–that they keep some kind of firewall between political activities and governing. All politicians say it, almost none really do it, and the ones that technically do it, don’t in spirit.

        But, I for sure think he was a slimy–if somewhat likable–character.

        • bmaz says:

          While that is a true enough statement for sure, it is by no means appealable error. It was a crap conviction in light of the fact they didn’t convict on the substantive counts, but so far it would look to be solid. Will have to see if Blago really appeals and, if so, what his issues and arguments are.

    • Mary says:

      ” It’s not like the goal of the government was to make sure he was impeached and bankrupted”

      I bet if the prosecutors and FBI had been as heavily surveilled as Blago was, you might not be able to toss that out – bc there might be as much evidence of “intent” by the prosecutors to “get” him as there was intent on his part to “get for” himself.

      I think the presser was absolutely an effort to cause immediate poltical consequences without trial and if you have ever hung out with legal dealmakers, the fact is that structuring litigation to make is as painful as possible for the defendant – including using the ability to bankrupt their resources to defend – is much more prevalent than you seem to think. If we had access to all the info about the people on the other side of the case as we do about Blago, I’d spec you could find some “evidence” of “intent” or goal to accomplish some of those very things. I wouldn’t say it was criminal when it was found, but I would definitely spec that you would find it.

      This is all kind of crappy/creepy though bc, in the end, it puts me where I don’t like being – just like the KSM trials and Padilla presser and Siddiqui trial etc. – I don’t believe in purity and innocence of a lot of these people. But I do believe in process and I do believe that, as frightening as the unchecked power of the Exec branch becomes when it is channeling the President’s CIC powers, it is equally as frightening when the Exec branch is allowed to play so fast and loose with its powers in the criminal prosecution area. If you don’t respect the process when the come for the sleazes, it won’t be there when they come for you and your family either.

  16. Mary says:

    Sparkles, I don’t think they ever showed that Blago was about to “sell” the Senate seat in any fashion that is intrinsically different from how any other Gov with that kind of a plum would make sure they got something from it.

    I don’t think they were overly optimistic with 24 charges, I think they were padding things out to try to guarantee a conviction on something. Juries tend to want to split the baby on fuzzy things, and if you throw 24 things at them, you are much more likely to get at least one to stick.

    I don’t disagree with this:

    He was a dirty corrupt lazy wheeler dealer who didn’t want to be governor. … Politics for him was an avenue for personal enrichment – it’s ALL OVER THE TAPES. He wanted high paying Board appointments for Patti. He wanted to be head of HHS. He wanted money because his and Patti’s spending was out of control.

    but I don’t think wanting those things and using his position as Gov to try to get those things criminal, v. political. Sleazy politics, sure, but how many USAs and AUSAs and appointees in the DOJ etc. don’t want to be public servants enforcing the law but instead look at the USA’s office/DOJ as an avenue for personal enrichment – a tool to use to get a pn slot at a big firm? I mean Kyle Sampson, for God’s sake, is a Huntin & Gruntin pn (I think, maybe not now but he was and had a waiver to boot)

    How many Congressional aids don’t want to be congressional aids but instead are using that as an avenue for personal enrichment? The “intent” to get ultimate personal enrichment from your involvement in politics (or the cesspool that is the DOJ for that matter) is AN intent, but is it a criminal intent? Sure, he’s sleazy. But so are, not only other politicians, but the federal prosecution network.

    For that matter, the press conf Fitzgerald gave in the case was sleazy too, and I think you can pretty well attribute to it an intention to use the power of the office and of the prosecutor’s public persona, separate and apart from the application of law to facts, all to lever the power of the office against the defendant as an individual. It’s a tremendous lever that can have long term and lasting effects just as much as a Senate appointment and its a perversion of that power to try someone by press conf. It pissed me off when his pal did it for Padilla (and you can be the intent of that presser wasn’t pure – they were sweating bullets over the DOJ’s rampant torture programs and Comey stood there and misrepresented the facts re: torture and Zubaydah etc. to use the power of the institution to protect criminals and invigorate the power of crime within the institution). You don’t need to litter your speech with expletives to be very sleazy.

    Over and over, pols brag about, for example, the pork they bring home. Politics is about making deals and getting something out of it. For example, if the intent is to appoint a Democrat – is that an illegal intent? To appoint a Democrat that will help IL with pork? To appoint a Democrat who will help other Democrats? To appoint a Democrat who will help other IL Democrats? To appoint a Democrat who will help the Democrat who appointed them?

    At what point do you criminalize it? I can understand the “give me a $$ in a Swiss account” but over and over you will see now-you-scratch-my-back going on. If there had been enough surveillance of Obamaco, don’t you think there would have been lots of discussions by lots of people about payoffs to supporters? How do you think Doug Kmiec magically became my favorite Maltan? Because there was no dealmaking?

    I don’t think you need to, or should, criminalize the “intent” to personally prosper from your politics in order to preserve the nation. You bet corruption is a big deal, but the expectation that you’ll spin your “service” into a gig as Lockheed Gen Counsel or as a partner in a Big Firm or as an appointee to run HHS isn’t criminal, imo. ON a related front, it’s why it was always going to be difficult to go after the torture memo drafters simply for drafting a crappy product in the hopes that it would personally advance their career – – BUT, there were plenty of actual violations that weren’t nearly so fuzzy that you could have gone after instead.

    I do think Fitzgerald was in a tough place (although I’m not sure what was the precipitator for his investigation to start with and presumably it wasn’t the Senate seat appointment)if he really believed that Blago was going to get an illegal, personal benefit for the seat and upon appointment, it would be a completed act that could not be undone and it would, as Cynthia indicated above, then be a situation where everyone would respond in horror asking “why didn’t you stop it.”

    But I still haven’t seen much about Blago getting someone to pay him direct $$ for the appointment. I don’t think the USA was very persuasive, though, that Blago trying to get fundraising commitments and trying to get other political appointments for himself out of the seat were the kinds of personal benefits would have been or should have been considered illegal personal benefits. And the presser was, imo, an ugly ugly use of office.

  17. JohnLopresti says:

    Mostly I missed the reporting, while following with my own ecclectic research, on several post topics both recent and wayback. Last email I saw from the campaign, eMeg ponied up $104. MM USD as of a few days ago. Further,as I recall, the former US secDef, the conservative of the two hP founders, was CFior*s early and longtime opponent in the Compaq takeover; I thought that initiative was several years advanced compared to the little iron thought processes in the Valley extant at the time. I had little idea of CF*s politics, but the business side seemed appropriate, and she met glass ceiling resistance. P**pretexting**Dunn figures in the ouster; and Hurd currently is taking a similarly illicitude tinged bow out.

    The Благо charges were part of an applecart filibuster gambit from Republicans, so committed were they that the MN Rparty spent 9 months contesting a joke which ultimately was upon them, a fitting entry for senator Franken. Times shift, and Byrd*s passing and replacement preserved the 6 month opportunity for the senate to have a semblance of the likeness voters sought in the election in 2008. The senate would be more vivid if a fillibuster actually entailed all night speeches instead of pro forma filibuster.

    The *honest services* dissolution from the Roberts court also plays to some of the Благо matters, as noted by post comment supra; and weaves into the various timelines and K St*s ongoing condition as CU fallout rains cash into the approaching autumn off-yr elections. I think the **honest** services effects upon other cases has provided some way for Democrats to offer compromises. Maybe worth checking out: FEC addresses requests to nullify existing law in CU independent expenditure instances, there.

    On the campaign from Hereford AZ re judiciary campaigns, I perceive some Republican politics in the ex associate justice*s views perhaps more evident than legacy *blind impartiality*. The Caperton case in WVA is a rolicking read.

  18. Mary says:

    OT – but Huffpo has pieces up John Bolton saying Israel has 8 day to bomb Iran and Mr. Blackwater’s move to Abu Dhabi.

    • bobschacht says:

      Can’t someone appoint Bolton to be ambassador to Outer Patagonia or Tierra Del Fuego with no staff and no computer connections? And to forbid him to communicate with Elliot Abrams or Steve Cambone? Or maybe send them all on a research expedition to the North Pole with no cell phones? I’ll be generous– I’d even supply them with 3 crates of Whiskey.

      Bob in AZ

    • skdadl says:

      LOL. I was once in a car that was attacked by an angry sheep, in Scotland. And yeah, they can be kind of scary, although ours gave up sooner than that one does. He just stomped off into the flock and bleated loudly for a while.

  19. AitchD says:

    In a recent New Yorker piece (July 26), David Mendell says that Blago self-identified strongly with Richard Nixon (a source used the word “fixated”) – Blago had long ago defended Nixon, arguing that Nixon had been unfairly persecuted by the media, and he also identified with Nixon’s humble, lower-middle-class origins; and later Blago identified even more so with Reagan. (Also, David Axelrod served as his adviser while he was in Congress). While Blago was governor, Mendell, who worked for the Chicago tribune, says that Rahm Emanuel, then in Congress, phoned Mendell to kvetch with obscenities about Blago (“I’m done with him”).

    (Mendell is the author of Obama: From Promise To Power (2007).