December 10th, 2008
04:56 PM ET
9 years ago

Land of Lincoln once again mired in controversy

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of scheming to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of scheming to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Illinois state politics read more like a script from "The Sopranos" than a page out of the history books.

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested on federal corruption charges involving an alleged pay-for-play scheme to award Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder - among other accusations.

Each was charged with a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and a count of solicitation of bribery, authorities said. If convicted, the two could spend a maximum of 30 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called Blagojevich's actions a "political crime spree" and said his behavior would make Abraham Lincoln "roll over in his grave."

Lincoln, after all, is one of the state's most famous figures, having served as a congressman and later as president.

The FBI special agent in charge of the case, Robert Grant, went so far as to say that "if [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor." Video Watch more on the complaints against the Illinois governor ยป

But accusations of corruption like those against Blagojevich are nothing new to Illinois.

"Corruption is in the DNA of this state," said CNN contributor and Chicago resident Roland Martin. "The voters in this state, when I talk to people, since I have been here, they're pretty much like, 'You know what? This is what we expect.' "

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Filed under: Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. No Hillary = No Obama

    Explain this contradiction: Obama touts Lincoln as his role model, or so he would like us to believe. Yet, his political formation was built and practiced in the Land of Thug Politics.

    December 10, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. Joyce

    C'mon, people! What a cynical bunch you all are. Yes, Blagojevich got caught– GREAT! Yes, Illinois has had more than its share of dishonest politicians. But, that does not mean that everybody in or from Illinois is a crook! Stop and think: Fitzgerald has been actively investigating Blagojevich for five years. He acted quickly this week before Blagovich could appoint a US Senator. Do you not think that if during these past five years he had found Obama was involved in all of Illinois' problems, he would not have acted quickly prior to the election?!

    I personally am disgusted with all those who are trying to get some of this mess to spread to Obama. There is not any indication that it does, so ease up. Give the man a fair chance!!! What is that old adage? Innocent until proven guilty.

    December 10, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  3. Joe the Troll

    Hey, Daniel Cabrera –

    Are you this eager to blame Bush for the Tom Delay scandal? They're both from Texas.

    How about Sarah Palin? She is just as guilty as fellow Alaskan Ted Stevens, isn't she?

    Isn't she?

    December 10, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. Janice

    The Republican party, still seething from the election, have been circling like buzzards looking to pick at something corrupt they think PE Obama may be involved in.

    December 10, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  5. Zoe

    Blagojevich has already been tried and convicted in the press it seems. He had just shown support for striking workers, stopped business as usual with the BOA. The timing of his arrest is odd, so close to his support of the workers and the upcoming inaugeration.
    What about innocent until proven guilty?

    December 10, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  6. Greg Hodges

    Stupid is, as stupid does. Lock him up; throw away the key; and move on. He is not worth the trouble to even comment on. And by the way; tell the Republicans to stop salivating every time they think that there is a way to tie Barack Obama to any/every scandel that comes down the pipe. It only makes them seem more desperate/ pathetic than they have already managed to create for themselves as a public image!

    December 10, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  7. Clark

    Rod Blagojevich–a patriot and and example of a TRUE American.

    December 10, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  8. Clark

    Rod Blagojevich–a patriot and an example of a TRUE American.

    December 10, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. gonzo

    Obama did not buy the presidency! People donated their time and money and yes lots of money because we wanted and deserve to have a president that is worth something! And we now will!!! The only thing Obama and this dumb*** have in common are they both come from Illinois. But of course the idiots will come out of the woodwork with OH LOOK, THEY ARE FROM THE SAME STATE SO THEY MUST BE IN ON THIS TOGETHER bull****! Just like they idiots trying to claim he is not a citizen! Give it up people!!! Bush had the lowest approval rating in HISTORY!! IN HISTORY!!!!!! The state of the country right now is on him not Obama.

    December 10, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. BB

    You people are crazy – look at all the corruption in TX. Yet a heckuva lot of our politicians have come from there. **cough cough**

    Racists can't see past the white on the end of their noses to see that one very intelligent constitutional scholar has kept his dark skinned nose clean.

    Rant on, you loonies. Rant on.

    December 10, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. The Lady

    To Daniel Cabrera,
    Did you think Sara Palin was a crook when Ted Stevens was convicted of his felonies, and what about the Slitzer case does that mean Hillary was corrupt because of him. There are crooked politicians everywhere and they and they alone are responsible for their decisionsn, not the President Elect, not the call girl, not the people who gave them money. It is time we hold people accountable for their own actions and quit trying to blame someone else.

    December 10, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  12. BB

    By the way, CNN – campbell brown is the poorest excuse you have. I'll be glad when that baby pops out so we are free of her freaky mouth for a few weeks. I change channels when she's on. Sickening.

    December 10, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  13. Send him to Jail

    PUT chains in his hands and feet and put him on display to every interested American....

    December 10, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  14. Jen, Philadelphia

    Interesting how CNN only allowed a few comments on the "Jackson as candidate 5" article. Could be they're afraid of his father, who's been at the pay to play game his whole career? The father threatens corporations to "donate" to his foundation or the pickets will appear crying racism. In politics it's called pay to play, in real life it's called extortion. I wonder if the son has learned at the feet of the father?

    December 10, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  15. BB

    Daniel Cabrera

    Google PNAC and shut your stupid mouth until you've read every article!!

    December 10, 2008 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  16. American Citizen

    Look at Gov. Rod Blagojevich, look at Governor Spitzer of NY, look at Bush, Chaney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales... how they betray the American people by using the power we gave them by ELCTING them...Not sure whether I want to vote ever again!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2008 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  17. Forky Tongue!!!

    redneck December 10th, 2008 6:49 pm ET
    From this we have the next President of the USA ! Obama was close to corrupt people and the cover ups begin!
    TO Redneck.....Who in the Hell Are YOU CLOSE to? Shut The Hell UP

    TO DANIEL-– Daniel Cabrera December 10th, 2008 6:09 pm ET
    Well, time will tell.Reality check:- it looks that with Obama at helm of this nation, all is going to be WORST!
    BY the WAY US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has already said PRESIDENT OBAMA had nothing to do with this by the way Your Grand Parents were Slave Masters but that's Ok ...ya betcha!!!!

    December 10, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  18. Wayne from Fullerton, CA

    Someone please ask and answer the question no one yet has answered:


    December 10, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. susie

    Is Caroline Kennedy going to buy the Senate seat in New York?

    December 10, 2008 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  20. James G. chicago.

    why is that Gov. Blagojevich can post a bond for $4,500 dollars after everything the prosecutor stated on TV, and have on wiretaps, but an NFL football player who accidentally shot himself, has to pay a bond of $50,000 dollars. can anyone on here explain that to me? Shouldn't it be the opposite? CNN please post my comment?

    December 10, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. Wayne from Fullerton, CA

    To Jen from Philadelphia:

    To answer your question about Jesse Jackson Jr.

    You are right PaPa has played these games for years but Jackson Jr. is not like his father. He often publicly disagrees with his dad. Don't equate one with the other. Junior is a good man fighting for the right things.
    Pa Pa on the other hand makes me sick. Probably the most pathetic thing I've see in political history is the same man who said he'd like to cut off Obama's nuts just months before, stareing into the camera crying because Obama won the election. It was soooooo fake and pathetic.

    December 10, 2008 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    This guy probably gets turned on by Sarah Palin.

    He and she seem like two peas in a pod.

    December 10, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  23. Linda in MS

    The gov. of Illinois should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town . He is a real creep.

    December 10, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  24. joy

    Put the crook,his wife and anyone else involved in prison!! along with them take Bush,Rumsfelt,& the never seen VP. Its all about the MONEY & POWER and they all have plenty of that!
    Obama,Biden i like em i voted for them, Hes not even President yet,give him a break & get real, Until he screws up or if he does,hes done nothing WRONG!!! Any person in politics who is corupt needs to go away asap,we need to tap all there phone lines.
    Obama is guilty of nothing,& until he is & its proven he will be my President on 1/20/09.

    December 10, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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