Statement from SEIU Suggests Fitz Talked with SEIU

I gotta disagree, politely, with Ian’s statement that the SEIU statement is "rather uninformative." Here’s the statement again, from Communications Director Ramona Oliver:

We have no reason to believe that SEIU or any SEIU official was involved in any wrongdoing.

In keeping with the U.S. Attorney’s request, we are not sharing information with the media at this time.

That statement tells us two very important things:

  1. Fitzgerald (or someone at his office) spoke with the SEIU, having made requests to the union that it not share information with the media
  2. After having spoken to the SEIU, the union believes that "no SEIU official was involved in any wrongdoing" 

Particularly given Fitz’s description of people coming forward to tell their sides of the story (and the damned familiarity of that "US Attorney’s request about not sharing information" from seeing it so often in the CIA Leak Case) I would imagine that Fitzgerald has heard SEIU’s side of any conversations with Blago, and found nothing much there to be interested in.

So, to answer Ian’s question:

Is any of this criminally corrupt?  Was Harris reading in that SEIU was willing to do the 3 way deal?  Was the request for a job effectively politely brushed off "gee, we’d love to, but ummm, other people are doing the work" or was it being seriously considered.  It’s hard to tell from the what’s in Fitzgerald’s document.

I’d say that my experience with Fitz’s detailed indictments/complaints, coupled with the SEIU statement, leads me to believe that Fitz doesn’t believe any of the SEIU’s involvement was criminally corrupt. At least not as far as Fitz knows about thus far. 

13 replies
  1. cbl2 says:

    sigh of relief ! Mr Stern has more people gunning for him than PE Obama and I couldn’t imagine them jeopardizing all they have accomplished to help out an unpopular Gov. already under investigation

    Ms Emptywheel – such a pleasure and privilege to read your work – just took a quick spin around Left Blogistan and despite all that’s come out this afternoon, none of them have even come close in informing their readers to the degree we get here. thanks so much

  2. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen Emptywheel and the Firepup Freedom Fighters:

    OK, now ya got some stuff landin’ in your playin’ field, please keep the first readings and analysis comin’ ‘cuz nobody sorts thru horse shit and finds the pony faster’n you do.


  3. ratfood says:

    Slightly OT: the Blagojevich statement in recent days inviting people to tape his phone conversations because he has nothing to hide seems eerily similar to Gary Hart inviting the press to follow him (and Donna Rice) around back the in the ’80s. They’re like teen vandals videotaping their crime spree and posting it on a Facebook page.

  4. BlueStateRedHead says:

    I now swear to renounce all others for EW. Nowhere do the weeds grown thicker and get numbered, timelined, and interpreted faster.

    EW, sure you don’t want to fly to Chicago for that elite status now?

  5. FrankProbst says:

    I think I’ll just add my “ditto” to the previous comments saying that anyone who talked to Blago on the phone about anything criminal is out of their fucking minds. The correct response to hearing anything even remotely illegal that this guy suggests on the phone would be to hang up and call the feds. And you should fully expect them to respond with, “Yeah, we know, but thanks for calling, anyway.”

    • ratfood says:

      That might be exactly what happened. I suspect somebody tipped the feds that Blago was taking bids for the Senate post. That would mean the whistle got blown sometime after Nov. 4.

  6. Hugh says:

    The complaint says this

    ROD BLAGOJEVICH understood that SEIU Official [Andy Stern] was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1’s [Valerie Jarrett] interest in the Senate seat.

    p. 69

    It appears that SEIU’s principal connection to Blago was in this connection. Blago and Harris discussed at length how to exploit this connection but Stern’s involvement seems primarily to have been as a go-between between the Obama campaign and Blago, not as a dealmaker.

    • selise says:

      i agree with the characterization of a go-between, but it sure looks to me like one who did know, or should have known, that quid-pro-quo was involved. doesn’t preclude things like informing patfitz, but absent something like that, this part surrounding your quote does not make “SEIU Official” look clear of the scandal to me.

      from pages 60 and 70:

      109. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with SEIU Official, who
      was in Washington, D.C. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that approximately
      a week before this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH met with SEIU Official to discuss the vacant
      Senate seat, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to
      discuss Senate Candidate 1’s interest in the Senate seat. During the conversation with SEIU
      Official on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed SEIU Official that he had
      heard the President-elect wanted persons other than Senate Candidate 1 to be considered for
      the Senate seat. SEIU Official stated that he would find out if Senate Candidate 1 wanted
      SEIU Official to keep pushing her for Senator with ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD
      BLAGOJEVICH said that “one thing I’d be interested in” is a 501(c)(4) organization. ROD
      BLAGOJEVICH explained the 501(c)(4) idea to SEIU Official and said that the 501(c)(4)
      could help “our new Senator [Senate Candidate 1].” SEIU Official agreed to “put that flag
      up and see where it goes.”

      110. On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor B. ROD
      BLAGOJEVICH told Advisor B that he told SEIU Official, “I said go back to [Senate
      Candidate 1], and, and say hey, look, if you still want to be a Senator don’t rule this out and
      then broach the idea of this 501(c)(4) with her.”

      my bold

    • LabDancer says:

      Why “understood”, as distinct from “knew”, “had been told”, “was previously informed”, etc.?

      There’s a lot about this process that remains to be clarified, so we’d all [including moi] be well advised to stock in more popcorn & STFU & listen; however, we parked here know Ms ew has this eerie ability for gleaning tells among the talking points so she’s gotta be exempt. I’m nowhere in her league in that, but I think I see some themes running through this story, as follows:

      [1] In both content and style, the Affidavit appears to be taken from the ongoing summary on the FBI overall investigation file, with the language that reflects either:

      [a] a good deal of selectivity aimed at keying on Blagojevich and Harris, or
      [b] an effort to leave that impression.

      [2] The above, and other facts, including in particular the coincidence with the reporting of the Tribune and related businesses heading into bankruptcy, supports that the timing of today’s Fitzpresser was not entirely of his choosing, but was forced by Fitz’ recognition that the impending bankruptcy would bring to an end whatever understanding he had with the Trib’s editorial staff – and also means Fitz had a heads-up on the timing of today’s news as to the Trib etc, which, given the nature of the relationship that one might expect would be formed to keep a major paper from releasing such a big story, suggests Fitz probably had that heads-up from the same folk[s] keeping mum on the Trib news.

      [3] I have a hard time believing that whoever was in contact with Fitz on the Trib side was also keeping Zell in the dark. That suggests that the nominal ‘owner’ of the Trib was the one who made the decision. Meanwhile, we know from other sources about the Trib’s rather odd financing arrangement, which I’m not saying is necessarily fraudulent, but superficially sure smells as bad.

      Which renders me curious about who all was trying to zoom who all here?

      [4] The way the Affidavit is drafted leaves the impression that Blago was something of a Bubble Boy when it came to connections with the Big O. Is that a reflection of the state of teh evidence? If so, then Blago was truly dumber than a bush.

      Or is that a reflection of an intention to leave that impression?

      [5] The live FoxNews feed from Chitown and other outlets are passing on reports of anon Chitown public figures running to Fitz’ office and the FBI like lemmings, leaving the impression of a stampede, each trying to get in as quickly as possible with his or her own squeal-and-skate [or scapegoat-and-’scape] deal, apparently deriving from the lemmings and their lawyers having read over the Affidavit.

      That seems a bit quick to me, even specially attuned denizens of the Windy City. I wonder how many constitutes a “stampede”? I wonder if someone figures to try to make up for being forced prematurely by events to take his investigation public, by releasing a document and a noun implying its Black Tuesday at Fitz’ house?

      [6] What the Affidavit describes is conspiracy – at best. Good prosecutors have a love-hate relationship with conspiracy, and I can assure you that I would not be wanting to go to a jury without a lot more than what’s in this Affidavit.

      Oop – out of popcorn – time to go stock up.

  7. Quzi says:

    Sheesh, I take a month off from the blogs after the election, and all hell breaks loose. You would think EW was out of town.

    Guess it’s time to catch up on my reading…

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