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Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Silencing dissent

Posted by Richard on October 30, 2010

Lisa Murkowski is a full-fledged member of the bipartisan ruling class that Angelo M. Codevilla described so well in his critically important American Spectator article. As such, she believes not only that she's entitled to rule, but that her subjects don't even have the right to make fun of her. Free speech be damned. 

Murkowski doesn't have access to SEIU goons to do her dirty work, so she relies on $1000/hr. lawyers to intimidate and silence her critics. On Friday, Sarah Palin told the tale on her Facebook page (emphasis added): 

Yesterday, Lisa Murkowski’s hired guns threatened radio host Dan Fagan, and more importantly, the station that airs Fagan’s show, with legal action for allegedly illegal “electioneering.” The station, unlike Murkowski, who is flush with millions of dollars from vested corporate interests, does not have a budget for a legal defense. So it did what any small market station would do when threatened by Beltway lawyers charging $500 to $1000 an hour – they pulled Dan Fagan off the air. 

Does all this sound heavy handed? It is. It is an interference with Dan Fagan’s constitutional right to free speech. It is also a shocking indictment against Lisa Murkowski. How low will she go to hold onto power? First, she gets the Division of Elections to change its write-in process – a process that Judge Pfiffner correctly determined had been in place without change for 50 years. She is accepting financial support from federal contractors, an act that is highly questionable and now pending before the FEC. And today, she played her last card. She made it clear that if you disagree with her and encourage others to exercise their civic rights, she’ll take you off the air.  

The concept of “electioneering” involves several issues, but typically refers to campaigning at the polls, which is appropriately banned. Under federal law, it can also mean paying for advertising on broadcast media during a federal election cycle, and it requires disclosures if done by groups and corporations. Fagan used satire to mock Murkowski’s write-in efforts and encouraged Alaskans to run as write-in candidates. That is not illegal. That is free speech.

Individuals like Dan Fagan have a fundamental right to speak their minds without threats from the incumbent Senator from Alaska. It is hard to find a constitutional right Americans cherish more than the right to free speech. This was a right Joe Miller, as a decorated combat veteran – a tank commander tested in battle, was willing to die to defend. Dan Fagan has not always agreed with me, but I will gladly defend his right to speak freely on his radio show, which he has often used to criticize me. In fact, Fagan has actually used his radio show to attack and insult me, my husband, my children, and my family in just about every way possible. He was especially insulting to my son, who left for a war zone to defend Fagan’s right to attack our family. But when I was his governor, I never would have dreamed of threatening his right to free speech. I support him in this fight because this D.C. Beltway thuggery, as exemplified by Lisa Murkowski’s latest threat, is ruining our country. The powers that be want ordinary Americans to sit down and shut up and let the ruling class ride us right off the debt cliff we’re heading towards with Obama, Pelosi, and Reid steering the nation’s car. We can’t let them. Now is the time to put aside our past differences and stand up to the establishment powers.

This whole episode confirms again why we need to elect Joe Miller. Lisa, you can sue me if you want (you won’t be the first). But I will not be intimidated from speaking my mind. Your intimidation just empowered us liberty-loving Alaskans. Are you really that out of touch?

Fortunately, Murkowski's thugs in pinstripes were too late. With some help from Dan Riehl's post at Big Government (which tells the story of the shameful election law subversion that led to this effort) and various bloggers, Fagan's call for more write-in candidates had the desired effect before he could be silenced. Riehl has the complete Alaska Division of Elections list of candidates for Senate and the story of how it came to be so large in a matter of hours just before the deadline.

Murkowski may have succeeded in getting election workers to distribute a list of write-in candidates to voters, but her name will be one of 148 on that list. Heh, indeed. 

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That remarkable HillBuzz letter

Posted by Richard on October 29, 2010

Neo-neocon linked to it succinctly:

Wow. Just wow.

I couldn't agree more. Click that link and read. 

Here's an idea for a political action committee you never thought would exist: "Gay Democrats for Palin"

How about it, Kevin DuJan? Wouldn't you like to add "Founder and President of Gay Democrats for Palin" to your resumé?

UPDATE: I suppose "LGBT Democrats for Palin" would be more inclusive, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it. πŸ™‚

HT: David Aitken, via email 

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Murkowski and the Combine

Posted by Richard on September 20, 2010

Lexington Green doesn't think Lisa Murkowski is running as a write-in candidate out of anger, animosity toward Joe Miller, or other personal reasons. He thinks she's protecting The Combine and the long-standing game its members of both parties play. Interesting read.

UPDATE: Sen. Murkowski defended her decision on CNN today with lots of double-talk and obfuscation. Since this is CNN, she wasn't asked about her pledge before the primary to support the Republican nominee. She also wasn't asked specifically what she meant when she claimed there was a "smear campaign" against her by Tea Party Express. I helped fund those ads and know for a fact that she was "smeared" by having her own votes brought to the attention of Alaska voters.

I'm still not certain whether her write-in candidacy is motivated by personal peeve and animus or by allegiance to "The Combine," as Green alleges. Either way, it's contemptible.

(HT: Instapundit)

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The latest racist code word is “ethics”

Posted by Richard on August 3, 2010

Apparently, the Tea Parties aren't the only racist organizations in America. Apparently, the Democratic leadership in Congress is racist, too, because they're finally, belatedly, taking seriously long-standing evidence of corruption by members who happen to be black. I guess when Tom DeLay, Mark Foley, and Randy Cunningham were run out of town in disgrace, it was reverse racism.

So what have we learned about racism in the past few months? If you quote the Founding Fathers, you're a racist. If you support lower taxes and less spending, you're a racist. If you oppose the government takeover of health care, auto companies, and the financial sector, you're a racist. And now it turns out that if you expect ethical behavior from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, you're a racist. 

Hey, it's not tax evasion, graft, and corruption — it's just the free-lance pursuit of reparations! πŸ™‚

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Protecting the Black Panthers

Posted by Richard on July 1, 2010

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating the Justice Department's dismissal of Voting Rights Act violation charges against the New Black Panthers — a dismissal that was ordered after the career attorneys at the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights Section had already won. One of those career attorneys, J. Christian Adams, recently resigned and went public (emphasis added):

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.


The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the "facts and law" did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let's all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal. 

Others have falsely claimed that no voters were affected. Not only did the evidence rebut this claim, but the law does not require a successful effort to intimidate; it punishes even the attempt. 

Read the whole thing. And if you wonder about Adams' claims about the evidence and testimony, you might want to look into it. Start by reading the affidavit of Bartle Bull (PDF), an attorney poll observer at the precinct in question. It's only three pages, and well worth your time. Mr. Bull helped secure the voting rights of blacks in Mississippi in the 1960s and worked on the Bobby Kennedy and Jimmy Carter campaigns — not exactly a right-wing bigot.

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Why did the White House try to help Bennet?

Posted by Richard on June 4, 2010

Dick Morris has a theory about why the Obama administration offered Andrew Romanoff his choice of high-level jobs if he gave up his primary challenge against appointed Senator Michael Bennet. Morris thinks they did it to buy Bennet's vote for Obamacare.

It's purely speculation, but it does seem to make sense. As Morris noted, Bennet was "no great friend of the White House" and he "lacked a political base and was never a particularly strong candidate." In fact, one could make the case that a Senator Romanoff would be more to the liking of the administration than Bennet. So it's hard to come up with any other compelling reason why they'd go out of their way — to the point of doing something certainly unethical and possibly illegal — to protect Bennet.

Despite all kinds of pressure, Bennet remained uncommitted on Obamacare for many months. Given how unpopular the bill was in Colorado, he had good reason to vote against it. Unlike the other Democratic holdouts (Landrieu and Nelson come to mind), he never won any well-publicized special treatment or benefit for Colorado. Yet that fall, a few weeks after administration officials apparently tried to bribe Romanoff to drop out of the race, Bennet suddenly decided that passing Obamacare was utterly vital to the nation and his highest priority in life. 

I wonder if some reporter will have the stones to ask Bennet directly, "Senator, did you trade your vote for Obamacare in exchange for the administration's efforts to get Andrew Romanoff out of the race?" And after the inevitable, "Of course not," to follow up with pointed questions about the timing, about why Bennet had the sudden change of heart on the bill, and about which members of the administration he had communications with and when during that time period. 

I'm not holding my breath.

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Silencing their critics

Posted by Richard on June 3, 2010

Reason's Jacob Sullum expertly dissected the Democrats' DISCLOSE Act, a bill intended to undermine Citizens United v. FEC and silence critics of incumbent politicians (while leaving public employee unions largely unaffected). It's coming to a vote soon.

Among other things, Sullum noted that "Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said he wants people to worry about a fine or prison sentence when they dare to speak ill of him." This prompted Glenn Reynolds to comment that:

Hacks don’t like criticism. But they should be careful. They’ll like tar and feathers even less, and that’s what you get when you make criticism illegal.

Tar and feathers have been out of favor for far too long. It's high time they came back into fashion. Given recent events in Massachusetts, maybe that would be a good place to try resurrecting the practice. Watch your ass, Capuano! 

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Look who’s feeding at the public trough

Posted by Richard on January 29, 2010

In Michael Moore's 2009 film, Capitalism: A Love Story, he railed against (among others) corporate greedheads lining up to get government handouts of the taxpayers' money. Talk about a great big pot calling the kettle black.

According to, Michigan's Mackinac Center discovered that the movie was partly filmed in Michigan, qualifying it for a generous windfall courtesy of the state's taxpayers. And it's already been approved, despite what strikes me as a serious conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety (emphasis added): 

That windfall would come from Michigan’s refundable tax credit program for the film industry, a program that allows movie producers to apply for a tax refund of up to 42 percent of their spending in Michigan. This lavish provision means a studio can easily receive more from Michigan taxpayers than it pays in Michigan taxes.

This initially seemed to trouble Moore, and he openly questioned the program at a forum in July 2008.

“These are large multinational corporations — Viacom, GE, Rupert Murdoch — that own these studios. Why do they need our money, from Michigan, from our taxpayers, when we’re already broke here?” Moore asked.

Moore posed this question to the Michigan Film Office director who determines which movies will qualify for the program. Moore went on: “I mean, they play one state against another, and so they get all this free cash when they’re making billions already in profits. What’s the thinking behind that?”

But in November 2008, Gov. Granholm appointed Michael Moore to the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council. Which advises the Michigan Film Office. Which runs the tax refund program.

Moore filmed part of “Capitalism: A Love Story” in Michigan. And the Mackinac Center has confirmed with the film office that a “production person” associated with Moore “applied, was approved for an incentive and … will receive credits” once the state treasury department reviews and approves the audited filing.

The film office did not disclose how much the resulting payment from the state would be; however, the film office director insisted that the incentive approval posed no conflict of interest with Moore’s seat on the film office advisory council.

Oh, OK. I guess I was wrong. Nothing to see here, folks. No crony capitalism. No unseemly behavior. No hypocritical greedhead pigs feeding at the public trough. The director of the office that Moore advises, who determines which movies qualify, has assured us of that.

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More machinations in Massachusetts?

Posted by Richard on January 9, 2010

Massachusetts' temporary senator, Paul Kirk, was appointed to the office after the legislature cynically changed the law to deny its citizens the right to vote for Sen. Kennedy's successor. Now, he's hinting that there may be more machinations to subvert democracy if Democrat Martha Coakley doesn't win the Jan. 19 special election. From Red Mass Group:

Today Paul Kirk told the State House News service that he would continue to serve in the United States Senate until the health care vote is taken if Scott Brown wins the election.  

"Absolutely," Kirk said, when asked if he'd vote for the bill, even if Brown captures the seat. "It would be my responsibility as United States Senator, representing the people and understanding Senator Kennedy's agenda and the rest of it … I think you're asking me a hypothetical question but I'd be pleased to vote for the bill."

The Scott Brown Campaign had the following to say about Paul Kirk's admission.

This is a stunning admission by Paul Kirk and the Beacon Hill political machine today. Paul Kirk appears to be suggesting that he, Deval Patrick, and Harry Reid intend to stall the election certification until the health care bill is rammed through Congress, even if that means defying the will of the people of Massachusetts. As we've already seen from the backroom deals and kickbacks cut by the Democrats in Washington, they intend to do anything and everything to pass their controversial health care plan. But threatening to ignore the results of a free election and steal this Senate vote from the people of Massachusetts takes their schemes to whole new level. Martha Coakley should immediately disavow this threat from one of her campaign's leading supporters.

First Deval Patrick and the legislature changed the law so that Paul Kirk would be a vote for health care. Today the Beacon Hill machine threatened to instigate a Constitutional crisis if Scott Brown is elected.  The Democratic machine in Massachusetts has no shame.  On January 19, 2009 we can take down the machine. Cast your vote for Scott Brown to tell Paul Kirk, Deval Patrick, Bill Galvin, and Martha Coakley that you have had enough of their politics as usual.

If that senate race is close (and Coakley's lead has dropped from 30% to single digits, with the difference within the margin of error among the likeliest voters), expect chicanery at the polls and voter intimidation. And should Republican Scott Brown win, it will be Minnesota squared — an army of Democratic lawyers will descend, challenges will be filed everywhere for every bogus reason they can think of, "misplaced" ballots by the hundreds and thousands will suddenly be "discovered," …

The Democratic Party in Massachusetts and across the country is now firmly in the hands of an undemocratic, arrogant, elitist, and unscrupulous gang of political thugs who will stop at nothing to ram their socialist agenda down the throats of the people. From the President on down, their ideology and tactics come straight from Saul Alinsky, and their role models appear to be Hugo Chavez and Manuel Zelaya. And we don't have the Honduran Supreme Court and Army to protect us from them. 

I've just contributed another $100 to the Scott Brown for United States Senate campaign. If you can spare a few bucks, please do likewise.

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Audit Congress update

Posted by Richard on February 16, 2009

Last Monday, I posted about the new site, I hope you checked them out. Now they've got a petition up, and I enthusiastically support it (I suspect I was one of the first to sign it). So please visit (or revisit), click the link, and sign their petition. Here's the entire text of the petition:

Whereas the Citizens of The United States of America have officials elected and appointed to offices of the highest power and responsibility, and whereas these same officials are human, and subject to the same faults as are all humans, and whereas recent history has shown that members of our Congress as well other high government officials may not have paid the taxes for which they are responsible:

We the undersigned Citizens of The United States of America hereby call upon both houses of the Congress of the United States, the President of the United States, as well as the President's appointees, to immediately volunteer to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States. Further, we call upon them to make public, in summary, the results of that audit. We further call for an annual audit for all of these named officials to be completed no later than June 30 of the following year, again making the results public within 30 days.

We petition the President to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct audits for all volunteers immediately and to publish the summary results.

We petition the President to within the calendar year 2009, author and offer legislation to Congress enacting into federal law an annual income tax audit process for all of Congress, the President, and all of the President's appointees. We call on the President, The Secretaries of the Cabinet, and members of Congress to actively promote this legislation within the Congress on behalf of the American People until such time as it becomes the law of the land.

I love this idea and think supporting it is a no-brainer. I've got a suggestion for the next step: Dan and Peter should draft a candidate's pledge of support for the Audit Congress idea and ask potential candidates for Congress in 2010 to sign the pledge. Let's see which candidates are willing to say, "I'm squeaky clean and have nothing to hide." And let's let the public know who isn't.

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Audit Congress

Posted by Richard on February 10, 2009

It's come to my attention recently that we seem to have quite a few elected officials and appointees to high government office who forget to declare all their income or can't understand even the relatively simple parts of the tax code. Yet, when their past failings and "oversights" come to light, they usually suffer no consequences other than having to pay up — and usually without any penalties.

This state of affairs has at least two deleterious consequences: 

  • It breeds cynicism among the citizenry and undermines confidence in and commitment to the rule of law.
  • It suggests that there are elected and appointed officials, possibly in sensitive positions, who may be susceptible to blackmail and extortion. 

Dan Murphy and Peter Langlois have an idea for correcting this corrosive situation, and they've set up to promote the idea: 

This site is dedicated to a simple proposition.  If you serve the public in a position of high responsibility, you deserve to submit to an IRS audit annually.  If you lobby congress, hold a cabinet position, or serve any federally appointed position, feel free to get in line at the IRS.  Consider it "table stakes" for establishing fiduciary credibility.  We can't afford tax cheats as Congressman and Senators, nor as federal attorneys, prosecutors, or administrators.

When you're finished cheering, go check it out.

If you have some ideas on the subject, contact them about getting posting rights on the blog and a list of topics they'd like someone to address.

But check out the guidelines first. These guys are pretty determined to keep the discussion civil, and they're just a wee bit paranoid about things like defamation and their potential legal liability. Understandable, I suppose — the law doesn't generally cut us ordinary citizens as much slack as it does our rulers public servants.

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Congressional junket paid for by bailout recipients

Posted by Richard on January 30, 2009

The National Legal and Policy Center, which is dedicated to "promoting ethics in public life," has asked the TARP Inspector General to look into a November Caribbean junket by Rep. Charles Rangel and five other members of Congress. The corporate sponsorship of this Congressional getaway clearly violated House rules and appears to be yet another example of "pay to play" (emphasis added):

The purported purpose of the Congressional trip was to attend the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference. The event took place November 6-9, 2008 on the sunny Caribbean island of St. Maarten at the Sonesta Maho Bay Resort & Casino, after Congress had approved the $700 billion bailout package in October.

The “lead sponsor” was Citigroup which contributed $100,000. Citigroup was certainly aware that it would be a major recipient of bailout funds. It was also aware that its fortunes had become increasingly reliant on Congressional actions. Citigroup should have also been aware that corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House Rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the Abramoff scandal and the infamous golf trip to Scotland.

Taxpayers are now Citigroup’s largest shareholder after infusions of $45 billion.

NLPC President Peter Flaherty attended the St. Maarten’s event in order to document potential violations of law and House Rules. The sessions were lightly attended. The primary purpose of attending for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation.

In addition to Rangel, the other members of Congress who attended were Donald Payne (D-NJ), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Donna Christensen (D-VI).

NLPC’s Complaint reads, in part:

“When the TARP was presented to Congress, it was argued that the situation was dire, and that the failure of major financial institutions posed a systemic risk to our economy. The stated goal was to unfreeze credit so that banks can make loans to businesses and individuals. It was never contemplated that banks use their capital to buy influence on Capitol Hill by funding vacations for members of Congress.”

 Call me cynical, but I bet notorious tax-scofflaw Charlie Rangel and his cohorts contemplated exactly that.

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Why Detroit can’t compete

Posted by Richard on January 6, 2009

Mark J. Perry posted pictures of Ford's 1941 and 2007 UAW union contracts. A picture is worth a thousand words, so go check them out. But here are the key stats:

1941: 24 pages (3.5 x 5 inches).

2007: 2,215 pages (8.5 x 11 inches), weighing 22 pounds.

But that's not the only problem. The other day, Perry linked to this Stop the ACLU post. It described a Detroit TV station's exposé of how union officials abuse what are laughably called the "work rules" in that 22-pound contract: 

One of the bosses, Ron Seroka, a union job security officer, takes off half a day nearly everyday to go home to lounge around the house while he is on the clock. Seroka punches in at the plant at 6AM every single day and is home by 11:30 AM for some nice leisure time at home. Yet he gets a steady 10 hours pay every single day despite the fact that he is rarely at work.

Seroka’s union boss is even worse. Union chairman Jim Modzelewski buys beer on a daily basis while on the clock and clocks himself in for overtime pay hours before he even wakes up to go into the plant. TV 4 found that after he punches in, he typically leaves for a beer run mere hours later. Again, all this is on a daily basis. He is also paid overtime pay on a daily basis as he sits home drinking his daily beer. With over 2,500 hours of overtime, Modzelewski made a six-figure salary last year.

The problem isn't just a few corrupt union officials (emphasis added):

The TV news also briefly interviewed an auto business expert that says in the last ten years one in three American union auto workers would not show up to work on any given day while foreign auto plants would see 98 out of 100 of their workers dutifully show up for work. Makes it a bit hard to plan on a work force in the US with unions in control, doesn’t it?

Thanks to the Democratic Congress and the "compassionate conservative" in the White House, it's now your tax dollars (and your children's, and grandchildren's…) that are paying these louts. Think about that as you're dutifully showing up for work in the morning. 

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Who turned Blago down?

Posted by Richard on December 10, 2008

Following the news of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempt to sell Barack Obama's senate seat, the president-elect announced that he never talked to Blago about his replacement (although he ducked the follow-up about his top aides). David Axelrod fell on his sword and recanted his earlier statement:

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, issued a statement late Tuesday saying he had misspoken in comments he made in November that now seemed to contradict Mr. Obama’s assertions that he had no contact with Mr. Blagojevich in the conversations over a replacement.

“I know he’s talked to the governor,” Mr. Axelrod said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” on Nov. 23. “And there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Axelrod said he had been wrong. “They did not then or at any time discuss the subject,” according to his statement.

Rush Limbaugh posed a good question today: If Blagojevich never proposed a senate seat deal, directly or indirectly, to Obama, then why the outburst against Obama? According to the complaint (PDF here), Blago angrily declared that he's not going to give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.”

That sure sounds like someone who wanted a deal and was rebuffed. If it wasn't by Obama himself, it could have been by a high-level advisor. Rahm Emanuel has long-standing ties to Blagojevich, and there's a rumor going around (denied, of course) that he's the reason the feds moved quickly to arrest Blago.

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Illinois guv busted

Posted by Richard on December 9, 2008

Imagine that — aother corrupt Illinois politician:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday morning in Chicago on two counts each of federal corruption charges stemming from allegations Blagojevich was trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.


The charges also relate to allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with previously convicted defendants and Obama associates Antoin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others to arrange financial benefits in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds.

My favorite laugh line in the story came from FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant (emphasis added): 

"Many, including myself, thought that the recent conviction of a former governor would usher in a new era of honesty and reform in Illinois politics. Clearly, the charges announced today reveal that the office of the Governor has become nothing more than a vehicle for self-enrichment, unrestricted by party affiliation and taking Illinois politics to a new low," Grant said.

Was that sarcasm, or was he really serious? 

According to the U.S. attorney, it's all on tape: 

Fitzgerald's office said the 76-page FBI affidavit alleges that Blagojevich was taped conspiring to sell or trade Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat for financial and other personal benefits for himself and his wife, including an annual salary of $250,000-$300,000 at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

They also allege Blagojevich is heard on tape demanding a corporate board seat for his wife worth as much as $150,000 a year; promises of campaign funds, including cash up front; and a Cabinet post or ambassadorship for himself.

Sen. Obama, asked to comment, said, "That's not the Rod Blagojevich I knew."

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