December 10th, 2008
04:56 PM ET
6 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. Walt, Belton,TX

    Once again Chicago and Illinois have achieved their proper notoriety!

    December 10, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  2. Brenda C

    What’s wrong wrong with Blagojevich trying to sell obama’s seat? The presidential election was bought. I say who ever raises the most money should get it. That’s the Chicago way you know? Whoever wants the senators seat could even see about getting some contributions from Iran, Africa, and Osama Bin Laden may even donate. That is if he has any money left after donating to obama.

    December 10, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    CNN and other media outlets are really trying to find some link between Obama and Blagojevich. It should have been clear yesterday that Obama has nothing to do with this mess. MOVE ON TO MORE IMPORTANT MATTERS!!!

    December 10, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. Lee

    So is everyone from Illinois now "tainted" on some way?
    It's a silly notion but some are pushing it very hard. When you have nothing, you push nonsense.

    December 10, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. Robert Wooller Bradford England UK

    This man should be severely punished for the shame he has brought Chicago and Obama, although I strongly believe Obama had nothing to do with it. When I first saw the story break – on CNN I was deeply worried for Obama knowing how Republicans and other critics of Obama would play on this. Just think of the damage he could have done to the Democratic course if he had got away with selling this seat and then being found out.

    December 10, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. imer

    Interesting!

    It is tough to imagine the President-elect didn't know anythng about the conversation taking place between his advisers and the Governor – to replace him.

    Someone thinks we are stupid.

    Another Nixon in the making?

    " "I am not a crook" announcement to follow soon?

    December 10, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  7. JP

    Blagojevich should resign and be prosecuted. He is crazy at best and a criminal at worst. I disagree with the outcry for Obama to disclose every person who ever talked to him. I'm worried about layoffs and my healthcare among other things. I would rather see Obama and his team focus on the economy.

    December 10, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. TJ

    To Daniel Cabrera

    Do you really think that McCain/Palin are free from scandal? There's alot of dirty laundry being revealed from both parties – Dems and the Repubs.

    December 10, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    Daniel Cabrera: not sure what a "cocozoid" is, but I'm sure it is not flattering. Someone needs to check and see if there is a State Hospital for the Mentally Insance in Merrillvill, Indiana.

    December 10, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  10. redneck

    From this we have the next President of the USA ! Obama was close to corrupt people and the cover ups begin!

    December 10, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    Corruption is everywhere even in the White House... but this an extract from someone... let's look under the hood of W and Chen ey before we start tainting this governor,...

    This is for all you facists on here who want to tie Obama to some jerk Illinois governor. This is just a partial list of Bush scandals. Halliburton's Corruption; Iraq's Decline; Abu Ghraib Prison Torture; CIA Pre-9/11 Intelligence; Failures; HHS Deceptive Ad Campaign; HHS Scully Scandal; Government-wide Accounting; Problems; Sex Education Misinformation; CAPPS II Failures; Real Costs of the Iraq War; US Attorney Firings; Walter Reed Army Hospital Neglect; Mishandling North Korea nuclear issue; Outing a CIA Agent; Lying to the American People; Hurrican Katrina; Warrantless wiretapping; Selling government to K Street lobbyists; Duke Cunningham, a corrupt politician steered money towards office supplies for Cheney; And there's much, much more.

    I'm sure to all of this you lying scandalous repugs would just say (in the words of your hero) "So"?

    December 10, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Jonathan

    So despite Illinois being full of corruption, Obama has come out squeaky clean despite being analyzed during the longest and most invasive campaign in history, Obama has been responsible for the most far-reaching ethics laws in Illinois history (including the laws that condemned what Blagovich has done), and someone this is a black mark for Obama?

    December 10, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Angie-OHIO

    this guy is a loser, liar and a cheat. he should resign and take his punishment. he seems very arrogant and smug. he also has to be the biggest dumbbell in the world (yes even dumber than bush). all political parties have bad apples. and this is the democratic's big loser.

    December 10, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Penn Voter

    Very sad report card on the Illinois voter. Why do you let these thugs remain in office? Stand up and vote them out.

    First, fire all of them,, then sort through the mess and hire back the good ones. It's your vote, use it.

    December 10, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. banjoist1

    Can you imagine if this had come out 2 months ago? We might have a different president coming online in January. I have to confess that – even though I support Obama – having grown up in the Chicago area, I was raised on the "Dailey Machine" and corrupt aldermen and precinct politics, and I immediatley wondered "what he knew and when he knew it". Obama must immediately distance himself from any of this. If he knew anything of this, he must speak right now, not through spokespeople. The worst political reaction to scandal – even just the suggestion of it – is no reaction.

    December 10, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I bet he won't be pardon by Obama but remember he can apply for a pardon under the Bush administration before Bush leaves office. Which means it will be left up to a future Republican president to pardon him. Maybe secretly Gov. Sarah Palin received a pardon by Bush for her abuse of power.

    December 10, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Peter (CA)

    The right wingers are actively foaming at the mouth over this one but some appear more delusional than others.

    The governor and Obama do not have much of a relationship. The governor has been documented as becoming more arrogant and off-the-wall lately. This debacle is all his. So, the Obama ties are not there.

    Brenda--"Buying" elections has been a Republican hallmark for years. That is why they fight against campaign reform. That is why they sponsor term limits initiatives. Jealous that the money went to the Democrat?
    Contributions from overseas? Put the link out here for us to see or stop making it up.

    December 10, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  18. David S.

    This crook is just one more example of why career politicians are so bad for this country. The arrogrance he still shows just highlights what is wrong with our system. What worries me is the Obama transition is filled with these Chicago thugs and I wonder how much he really knows.

    Nothing changes in Washington, its just one big cesspool.

    December 10, 2008 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. Charlotte

    It's a pity the Naziosos are such sore losers and are still grasping at whatever straws they can to try and claim Obama didn't win fair and square. You're pathetic. It's clear Obama had nothing to do with this.

    December 10, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  20. derrick

    looking at the rate of ignorance and hate here... i wonder where america will be in the next 10 years.... i guess down the gutter.

    the amount of americans that hate the president elect is just so hilarious... they don't seem to realise the soldiers fighting and dieing in iraq and afghanistan are not just white americans....or republicans

    December 10, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  21. Joyce, VA

    What the hell–get this man off the stage.

    December 10, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  22. JT

    To Daniel and the redneck. thank you for speaking ignorants on this subject. There's no proof at all that Obama has ties to this corruption. I wish that people would stop blaming everything that goes wrong on Obama. The next you guys blog, please speak above a 3rd grade level.

    December 10, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  23. chuck

    I've never trusted a serbian and have no intentions in the future.

    December 10, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  24. DC Observer

    Washington DC Ethics Quiz.
    Which of the following approaches to attaining and keeping office is unethical A, B, C, D, E, F or all of the below? Bonus points for anyone that can explain the differences

    A. Mr Lobbyist, give me $500,000 and you will have access to my office for your agenda

    B. Mr fundraiser, raise $500,000 for my relection and I will give your largest donors access to my office for your agenda

    C. Mr Speaker, give my district $2,000,000 of pork barrel spending and I will vote for your agenda

    D. Voters, I gave you $2,000,000 of pork so vote for me

    E. Mr indiviudal donor and fundraiser, raise $500,000 through events and corporate contributions and I will give you a diplomatic appointment

    F. For Sale – One Senate Seat – $500,000

    December 10, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  25. Racer X

    That's it, everyone who is from Illinois or lived in Illinois is corrupt!

    Abraham Lincoln – Corrupt
    Ulysses Grant – Corrupt
    Ronald Reagan – Corrupt
    Barack Obama – Corrupt
    Jane Addams – Corrupt
    Carl Sandburg – Corrupt
    Bill Murray – Corrupt
    Walt Disney – Corrupt
    Cindy Crawford – Corrupt

    They all had something to do with this I bet. Just strike their names from the annals of American history now.

    You say Obama's all connected with it and hiding something – i think it's that sneaky Cindy Crawford!

    December 10, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
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