Tuesday, December 09, 2008
CHICAGO (AFP) — The governor of Illinois was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to sell an appointment to president-elect Barack Obama’s recently open US senate seat, prosecutors said.
Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were also accused to trying to “induce purge of newspaper editorial writers,” critical of him at the Tribune Company, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.
“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement.
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“They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States Senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”
Blagojevich was allegedly intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps discussing obtaining how he could profit from the fact that it is the governor’s role to appoint a US senator when a seat becomes vacant, according to a 76-page FBI affidavit.
Blagojevich compared himself to a sports agent selling the seat to the highest bidder in one recorded conversation, the affidavit alleges, and also spent a significant amount of time weighing the option of appointing himself to the seat.