December 10th, 2008
04:56 PM ET
5 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 »

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. Fenarkleman

    What is Blagojevich hiding under his hair? Could be more bribes in there!

    December 10, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Rockford

    It's going to be fun seeing who will be first to cut a deal... and bring it all down. Will it be the Gov himself, Rezko, or maybe Mrs. Blago... join us tomorrow as the world turns.

    30 years in prison can be quite compelling...

    Lot's of "Chicago Machine" cronies aren't sleeping well these days! LOL

    December 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Sue

    Don't even TRY to tell me Mr. Obama didn't know what his political buddy was doing all of the years MR. OBAMA was running his state!!!!!
    Liar, liar, pants on fire!!!! He is full of DENIAL – maybe he was still using cocaine all of the years he worked with his well known, contributor to his politics!!!

    December 10, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. andyb

    Blagojevich even looks like a dork. How'd he get to be Gov?

    December 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. LIP

    Politics as usual. I recall years back that someone in the news said that the Kennedy Patriarch once asked that the Chicago machine insure that his son John becomes President. Not sure if this was fact or fiction, but it says a lot about Illinois and what is considered to be normal.

    December 10, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  6. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Thank you CNN, for FINALLY mentioning in an article that Blago is a Democrat.

    December 10, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. Bill Samson

    I thought the land of Lincoln was Kentucky????

    December 10, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Nimi from NY

    Bush led us in to a phony war that has cost American people billions of dollars and thousands of lives, Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose and all the media care about is Blagojevich and corruption. Bush and his cronies are all walking around trying to rewrite their history and you guys are talking about corruption that has was monopolized for so long by the Bush Administration. If not for the public where was the outrage by the media about Bush and Karl Rove dodging aeverything they did by invoking executive privilege. I don't condone what the Illinois Governor did but please stop already. Let be tried and convicted in the court and not by the media.

    December 10, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Willy Brown

    Just your normal law breaking democrat.

    December 10, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Big Ed

    Sorry Gov., but it's time to go! Don't let the door hit ya where the dog shoulda bit ya!

    December 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Centrist

    Throw away the key. I hope they have better hairdressers where that crook is going.

    December 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  12. Alexa- Chicago, IL

    Somehow some seem to forget that there are still decent and working politicians here.

    December 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. laura

    You know the face says it all ... he does look like a crook

    December 10, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. Don

    CHICAGO – Home of the mob...what more you expect?

    December 10, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. BB

    Strip him of all power immediately and add impeachment to his awful legacy. That kind of stuff is disgusting.

    December 10, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    If this is no surprise to the voters, why do they go along with it!

    It is beginning to appear that the people of Iraq had more of a chance of getting rid of Saddam than the people of Illinois do of getting rid of their corrupt government.

    December 10, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  17. No incumbents 2010

    I guess Character does matter

    December 10, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. Tony Genualdi

    If Blagojevich won't step aside gracefully, the Ilinois legislature should think about impeaching him. He's crooked and has shown he can't be trusted. In any case, I hope they lock him up and toss the key.

    December 10, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. Dayahka

    There is definitely something wrong with state constitutions if governors can exonerate themselves (as a Republican, Palin, did in Alaska over troopergate) or if a governor is corrupt but can still exercise power from within prison (as in this case for a Democrat from Illinois). That a governor so accused–not of some paltry sum for bribery, but for actively seeking to sell a senate seat for money–can continue to be governor is really shameless and absurd–on his part an on the part of the state of which he is a member.

    December 10, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Brian

    Is it just me or does this guy look like one of the people from the Grinch movie?

    Anyway we have a presidential administration that is the shadiest and most immoral of our time and a down right crazy Republican party....

    and this is the worst thing happening in policitics?

    Come on this is a joke. I guarantee there are a thousand worse things that Bush has done himself.

    Memo to the news: Move on next story please!

    December 10, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. beevee

    The only thing I can say about this guy is What an idiot, what was he thinking or more likely hallucinating. A bad apple in the democratic party.

    December 10, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  22. California Gold

    Illinois deserves better than this scoundrel.

    December 10, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  23. Daniel Cabrera

    Well, time will tell.Reality check:- it looks that with Obama at helm of this nation, all is going to be WORST!

    Remember that Obama is a TROJAN HORSE FACTOR FOR THE DESTRUCION OF OUR COUNTRY.
    Of course you still do not want to deal with that one, right?

    So, here we have it! CORRUPTION,CORRUPTION,CORRUPTION!!!

    It will not take for surprise when US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald contInues the investigation ( unless the Obama machinery find the way to stop it) that some people start talking- ’singing’,- saying things about all the wrong and nasty practices in the dark corrupted Chicago-Illinois political atmosphere, from where Obama is product, and AS RESULT, the president elect Obama gets blown away by a nasty past.

    Of course, the media is there to attempt to soft and mufflle everything. They will even sell their soul to who knows what in order to make him appears(Obama) like a nice straight/all virtue, capable guy deserving presidency,…out of all wrong doing,… completely away form the CORRUPTION in Washington, the financial spoectrum,… away from THIEVES, CROOKS, TERRORIST, ALL KIND OF NASTY INDIVIDUALS like: Raines, Johnson, O’Neal,Cox, Dood,Soros,Pelosi,Reid,Frank,Wright,Ayers,Alinsky, and others weeds.

    However, one day, the truth will be revealed,…how soon? let’s just wait on that one, ok?

    In the mean time, think in the direction our beloved country is getting into, thanks to all the brainless voters responsible for this to happens.It seems that this country is overloaded with COCOZOIDS!

    Sincerely,
    Daniel Cabrera
    Merrillville, Indiana

    December 10, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  24. Simmy

    I like Roland Martin, but I don't think he speaks for the majority of Chicago/Illinois residents. That's a stereotype of another genre. Let's not do that.

    December 10, 2008 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  25. B. Stevens

    . . . Damien III.

    December 10, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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