Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.
I wonder how much of this Chicago politics as usual we can expect or anticipate in Washington? I'm not sure how shocked we should be since the Attorney General's office has been investigating the governor for years... YEARS!! Oh, and this isn't unique in Illinois politics.
Former Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan, Sr., was indicted in 2003 by a federal grand jury on racketeering conspiracy, mail and tax fraud and false statements charges alleging public corruption during his terms as Illinois Secretary of State from 1991 to 1999 and as Governor from 1999 to 2003. Ryan and certain of his associates allegedly engaged in a pattern of corruption that included performing official government acts, awarding lucrative government contracts and leases, and using the resources of the State of Illinois for the personal and financial benefit of Ryan, members of his family, his campaign organization and certain associates.
What is it about Illinois? Is it just Chicago politics, the finely honed machine that may have coined the phrase, "vote early, vote often". I wondered why Chicago was part of BHO's political history. How a young man with a multi-cultural and international background, from Hawaii, Indonesia, and Occidental in LA, end up in some east coast liberal college, then Harvard Law and then chooses to settle and learn in Chicago. It was one of those 'missing links' that seemed out of place in an already interesting bio. I know the public bio aired during the campaign questioned why a Harvard Law graduate, who could have commanded a 6 figure income after graduation, chose to be a community organizer...and chose Chicago to learn. Didn't Hawaii or California have communities that needed organizing? Makes more sense for an islander to choose Los Angeles over Chicago. I guess Chicago gives one the kind of education that requires boots on the ground.