John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


The Audacity of Corruption

Posted on December 9, 2008


The Audacity of Corruption


            Today, the U.S. Attorney of Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, playing his best Elliot Ness, came to the podium to announce the indictment of Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Fitzgerald seemed amazed at the breadth and audacity of the corruption exhibited by the Governor.  But he shouldn’t have been amazed.  My parents, who have lived in the Chicago area their entire lives, have often told me tales of corruption, their frustration boiling over.


            Chicago is now the murder capitol of America.  Cook County has the highest tax rate of any municipality in the country.  The roads are still falling apart, the city is beset with all kind of other corruption, and the Chicago Tribune is declaring bankruptcy. 


            Now this.  President-elect Barack Obama was born of this system.  His close friend, Tony Rezco, is all over this 76 page indictment.  Many of his friends and associates seem to be bidders in auction to be the next Senator.  And Blagojevich seems to think that he can cut a deal with the President-elect to pad his own pockets in return for a Senate pick.  Obama might be completely innocent, but Blago certainly doesn’t think so.  Here are some excerpts from the indictment:


After discussing various federal governmental positions that ROD BLAGOJEVICH would trade the Senate seat for, ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked about “the private sector” and whether the Presidentelect could “put something together there. . . .Something big.” Thereafter, HARRIS suggested that the President-elect could make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of a private foundation. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS that he should do “homework” on private foundations “right away.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether he could get a high-ranking position at the Red Cross. HARRIS stated that “it’s got to be a group that is dependent on [the President-elect],” and that a President probably could not influence the Red Cross. RODBLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to “look into all of those.”


“On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS and

Deputy Governor A. They discussed potential private foundations with which ROD

BLAGOJEVICH might be able to get a position in exchange for filling the Senate seat and,

in particular, those foundations that are “heavily dependent on federal aid” and which,

therefore, the White House would have the most “influence” on. ROD BLAGOJEVICH

wanted to know how much the positions being discussed pay.”


“HARRIS said that Change to Win will want to trade the job for ROD BLAGOJEVICH for something from the President-elect. HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that for him to give up the governorship for the Change to Win position, the Change to Win position must pay a lot more than he is getting paid right now.”


“ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked what he can get from the President-elect

for the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that Governor General Counsel believes

the President-elect can get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on paid corporate boards in

exchange for naming the President-elect’s pick to the Senate. Governor General Counsel

asked, “can [the President-elect] help in the private sector. . . where it wouldn’t be tied to

him? . . .I mean, so it wouldn’t necessarily look like one for the other.”


“HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the Presiden-telect

where SEIU could help the President-elect with ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s appointment

of Senate Candidate 1 to the vacant Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH would obtain a

position as the National Director of the Change to Win campaign, and SEIU would get

something favorable from the President-elect in the future.”


            None of this is very good news for President-elect Obama.  He might want to focus on other things, but some small part of him will always be looking over his shoulder to see if the Feds are coming for him too.  It will be very interesting to see what the new President does with Chicago’s new Elliot Ness.  Should Obama fire him, there will be hell to pay with the public.  Should Obama promote him to a do-nothing job at the Department of Justice, there should be hell to pay with the public.  But should he keep him where he is, all the President’s Chicago friends may end up in jail, and who knows how that will play out in the long run for Mr. Obama.

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