Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was captured on tape saying that unless he received “something real good” for the appointment of a top adviser to Barack Obama to fill the president-elect’s Senate seat he would appoint himself, according to a criminal complaint.
“Unless I get something real good [for Senate candidate 1], s***, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying?” Blagojevich was taped saying on November 3, the day before Election Day.
Blagojevich added that the Senate seat “is a f***ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”
The complaint does not mention her name, but the description makes clear that Blagojevich is referring to Valerie Jarrett, a senior campaign adviser to Obama who has been tapped as a top White House aide.
“By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the President-elect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect,” the complaint states.
Blagojevich also was caught on federal wiretaps saying he was interested in the job as secretary of health and human services in an Obama administration, a well-paid position on a foundation board, or millions of dollars for a nonprofit organization that he would run after leaving office, according to a 78-page federal criminal complaint.
Blagojevich also schemed to shake down a union in exchange for appointing a senator who was favorable to the union, prosecutors allege.
The charges upend the process of filling the open Senate seat and threaten to subject the president-elect to an onslaught of press scrutiny about what he knew about the investigation.
The indictment is silent on what role, if any, Obama himself or his transition team played in the investigation.
The governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were also changed with demanding the firing of members of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board in exchange for helping the Tribune Co. with the sale of Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Additionally, Blagojevich sought a seat for his wife on corporate boards where she could reap significant salaries.
The complaint details conversations between Blagojevich and Tony Rezko, a major Chicago fundraiser and one-time benefactor to Obama.
"I want to make money," the affidavit quotes the governor as saying.
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in a statement that "the breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering."
"They allege that Blagojevich put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States senator," Fitzgerald said."
Obama’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Obama was not accused of any wrongdoing.
The Illinois Republican Party called on the governor to resign his office effective immediately.
“If Governor Blagojevich does not resign his position, we urge the General Assembly to move swiftly with impeachment proceedings,” the party said in a statement. “Furthermore, Governor Blagojevich should not, under this cloud of extremely serious allegations, appoint a United States Senator. While there is a presumption of innocence, in these troubling economic times, the people’s work should be placed ahead of Governor Blagojevich’s legal troubles.”