Blagojevich corruption scandal becoming headache for Obama

December 10, 2008

The messy corruption scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is threatening to become a major headache for President-elect Barack Obama.
For a second day Wednesday, Obama was forced to respond to developments in the case involving Blagojevich, who was charged Tuesday with trying sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the president-elect after his victory in November.BLAGOJEVICH/INVESTIGATION
Blagojevich’s arrest dominated U.S. media, overshadowing congressional efforts to hammer out a $15 billion bailout package for the troubled auto industry and pushing Obama’s work to finish assembling his new Cabinet out of the limelight.
Editorial pages expressed amazement at Blagojevich’s evident brazenness in his desire to make money out of the opportunity to fill Obama’s Senate seat.
“We have seen a lot of political hubris, scratch-my-back politics and sheer stupidity over the years,” The New York Times editorialized. “But nothing could prepare us for the charges brought Tuesday against Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois.”
The charges raised questions about how Obama’s Senate seat could be filled without the taint of the pending criminal case.
Obama joined other politicians Wednesday in calling for Blagojevich to resign, and he backed the idea of having the Illinois Legislature call a special election to fill the post.
“The president elect agrees … that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” Obama spokesman Robet Gibbs said in an email.
It was the second time in as many days that Obama has tried to put distance between himself and his fellow Chicago Democrat. On Tuesday he denied having talked to Blagojevich about the Senate seat.
But the president-elect declined to say whether aides might have spoken to the governor or his staff, adding that it would be inappropriate to discuss the case further since it is under investigation.
Prosecutors said there was no indication at all of any Obama involvement.
But the scandal refused to go away. Obama adviser David Axelrod had to issue a statement retracting his comment last month that Obama had spoken to Blagojevich about the Senate seat, saying he had been wrong.
And news reports Wednesday said associates of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois, one of Obama’s national campaign co-chairs, may have discussed the Senate seat with Blagojevich.
Jackson denied any wrongdoing. “I did not initiatiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat,” he told a news conference.
What do you think? Is Obama being hurt by the Illinois corruption case? Will this cause problems for his first days in office?
For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Top: Reuters/John Gress (Blagojevich, left, Obama and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley during a rally in Chicago in April 2007); Bottom: Reuters/Jeff Haynes (Obama talks to media at his transition office office Dec. 9)


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How else would Blago have known Obama’s team was offering only appreciation unless he had talked to them? Why did Axelrod retract now and not in Nov.? There was another report of contact between Obama and Blago right after the election. KHQA is retracting the story. Why? “Prosecutors said there was no indication at all of any Obama involvement.” When the Watergate burglars were arrested, the was no indication the White House was involved either.
Considering how in the tank for Obama the press was and continues to be, this smacks of journalist malpractice if not a cover-up. Who is watching the watchers?

Posted by Bill M | Report as abusive

Gov. Blagojevich is an obvious idiot for trying to do something so stupid in this new post-Bush, anti-Republican/corruption political environment. It is also obvious that Sen. Obama had nothing to do with this mess (just because Obama met the Il. Gov. does not mean he approved or participated in the Gov’s. activities). Allthose who would attack the Pres-Elect should get a life & face the facts — your policies have failed, your politicians are morons, and your party LOST the election for very good reasons. America has spoken, we are tired of YOUR corrupt party leaders and their blatant selling-off of the American dream and the American People to their wealthy co-horts and foreign interests. Any attempts to pit the blame for this fiasco on Obama are obviously vain attempts to distort the true picture away from your own partys mis-deeds.
Obama would have had nothing to do with such a stupid act, why would he? We won the election. He could gain nothing for his cause nor for the future of America for such an idiotic act – and we have seen his ability to thourally analyze any scenario (and even your moronic pres admitted Obama’s political genius), so why would he participate in such an obviously ill-thought out plan for the benefit only of Blagojevich?
Obama’s best scenario would have been for his vacated seat to be filled with a promising and adept individual like JJ Jr. – a like-minded ally and a thinging-man’s gentleman. Obama could not ever benefit from having had his seat auctioned off – the winner would probably have ended up being Republican!
So get off the bandwaggon & move on. If Blagojevich did do the crime, he should be locked up (along with all the Republicans who have done the same thing ). We need competent people running the gov’t and criminals in jail (Bush included), and we need to figure out how to put our country back together after 8 years of corruption and waste (and murder and theft and war). In the end, JJ Jr will lose his chance to help America achieve our mutual needs and we all will suffer the loss. The only one who could have gained was Blagojevich and he alone should be punished.
Now let’s get on with saving ourselves and this planet from this dissaster 28 years of Republican misdeeds have imposed on us all.

Posted by Neal | Report as abusive

What politician in the world is going to let go of a senate seat for nothing?

The only crime Blago has committed IMHO is to haggle in a loud voice, instead of doing it quietly in rooms filled with smoke.

Posted by gambori | Report as abusive

PAY TO PLAY ,THIS IS THE GOLDEN RULE for politicins in my country and other countries.

Posted by DABDOOB | Report as abusive

Hey neal, the gov of illinois is a democrat. DUH. Our entire political system is corrupt. you say “your policies have failed, your politicians are morons, and your party LOST the election for very good reasons. America has spoken, we are tired of YOUR corrupt party leaders and their blatant selling-off of the American dream “. Guess what. those are your policies,politicians and your party. If the american dream you speak of is take from those who work and give to those who don’t then I will no longer consider myself an american. thank you
Gambori it is not a seat which should be used to line his own pockets but to better benefit the country and the state of Illinois.

Posted by jerm | Report as abusive

WHY did Obama lie about discussing the seat with Blagojevich?

WHO from Team Obama offered Blago a corporate BOD position for his wife?

HOW OFTEN was Emanuel in touch with Blago’s people?

WHAT did they mean on the FBI wiretap when Blago’s advisers said Obama had to “suck it up” for the next couple years? Temporarily refrain from cheating, bribing, and stealing Chicago-style?

And, Blago’s (convicted) bagman was Rezko… you know, the guy that helped Barack buy that nice house? And raised tons of money for both Barack and Blago?

Wake up, pollyanna Obamaphiles… the dream is over already. When reality hits, it hits hard… especially when suppressed for so long.

I guess you won’t be getting that Senate seat now either, Chris Matthews- should have just bought this one from Hot Rod when you had the chance, LOL

Let the truth be told… the de-programming of the Obama Cult is desperately needed, and seriously overdue.

Posted by Reaganite Republican Resistance | Report as abusive

The tapes released clearly show that Obama had or was advised of discussions (demandes ) of Blago and that Obama was aware of that something of value was being demanded for the seat,How else would Blago have known Obama’s team was offering only appreciation unless he had talked about the seat? Why did Axelrod retract now and not in Nov.? (PRESS COVER UP)There was another report of contact between Obama and Blago right after the election.sEE khoa’ ARCHIVES. However,KHQA is retracting the story, JUST LIKE Axelrod. “Prosecutors ARE APPARENTLY IN THE TANK WITH THE PRESS IN THAT THEY SAY “there was no indication at all of any Obama involvement” watergate has less indications. Most of the main stream media is in the tacit conspiracy to cover tank with the obama’s teams ass which is tanamount intentional concealing of potential evidence the responsible press menbers should be indicted.Let those involved in any way be tried and cleared or convicted and sentenced. There is a long history of the press failing the role as the third party which is truly journalist malpractice if not a criminal cover-up. Who is watching the watchers?

Posted by bob Iles, an independent | Report as abusive

I am glad to hear that Obama is not tainted by this scandal. I am very concerned about the corruption that is apparent in politics and the growing corruption in Washington.
The Democrats are loud on accusing the Republicans of corruption, and too often rightly so, but they have a hard time finding candidates that don’t carry a lot of baggage into office themselves.
Let’s face the facts too many of our politicians from both parties are corrupt and if America is going to continue to be free “We The People” need to find a way to sort out the corrupt from those that love this country more than money.
I hope the criminals get the maximum penalties for their crimes.

Posted by Craig Coal | Report as abusive

Headache for Obama? Not hardly. The activities of politicians like Blagojevich are why the Illinois General Assembly unanimously passed legislation to make pay to play politics illegal in the face of Blagojevich’s veto.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive


Posted by Wayne Sheridan Robisheaux | Report as abusive

Chicago politics have been corrupt ever since Mrs. Murphy’s cow knocked over the lantern in the barn and started the Chicago fire.

I don’t think Obama is directly involved in this latest scandal, but to suggest for one moment that he is the only honest man in a den of thieves is naive.

The same system that promoted and supported Obama, promoted and supported Govenor Blagojevich, as well as Representative Dan Rostenkowski and others.

I think what the country is waiting to see is where this case leads. Because as filthy as Chicago politics is, and I include the Republicans in the same bath water as us Democrats, the idea the Governor Blagojevich is going to quietly go away to prison, if convicted, is laughable. He will most assuredly take others with him. This means that a lot of those people serving in the Obama administration, who came with him from Chicago may get caught up in this investigation next spring. Unless of course Obama fires US Attorney Fitzgerald when he takes office on January 20th.

This whole episode could have been avoided if we Democrats had not fallen for slick marketing and instead voted for a democrat who had been on the national stage for awhile, thereby having been fully vetted.

We get what we deserve…

Posted by Jim | Report as abusive

how blagojevich found out that obama would,nd play ball is because obama is the one we have been waiting for,the gifted one, probably sent the governor a vision or perhaps a angel was sent to tell suggest there had been mortal communication you blasphemers.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive