Let's see if we have it right: Burris had zero contact with any of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's cronies about his interest in the Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama—unless you count that conversation with former chief of staff Lon Monk, and, on further reflection, the ones with insiders John Harris, Doug Scofield and John Wyma and, oh yeah, the governor's brother and fundraising chief, Robert Blagojevich. But Burris didn't raise a single dollar for the now ex-governor as a result of those contacts because that could be construed as a quid pro quo and besides, everyone he asked refused to donate.
“If I had done the things I’ve been accused of, I’d be too embarrassed to stand up here,” Burris said.
"Stop the rush to judgment. You know the real Roland. I have done nothing wrong and I have absolutely nothing to hide," he told the City Club of Chicago, a gathering of civic leaders, politicians and businesspeople.
Burris said he would cooperate "in any way I can" with a perjury review by the Sangamon County state's attorney into his sworn testimony as well as the preliminary investigation opened by the Senate Ethics Committee.
"I welcome the scrutiny," Burris said.
But he also made a point of saying he won't cooperate with the media, saying their scrutiny has not been fair. And then he invoked the classic political response in announcing he would no longer take reporters' questions.
As expected, the Illinois Senate voted to impeach Rod Blagojevich today, with just one 'no' vote from a retiring State House member.
Rep. Milt Patterson (D-Chicago) was the lone vote against impeaching the governor. Patterson, from Chicago's Southwest Side, said after the roll call that he didn't feel it was his job to vote to impeach the governor. He declined comment on whether he approved of the job Blagojevich is doing.
A Blagojevich spokesman said the governor will not resign.
Meanwhile, in the battle of Roland Burris vs Jesse White, it's Jesse by a vote:
The Illinois Supreme Court today rejected Roland Burris' effort to get the signature he needs to complete his appointment to the U.S. Senate.
Burris was seeking to compel Secretary of State Jesse White to sign the certification of appointment naming Burris to the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Burris to the Senate seat last week, but White refused to sign the required paperwork because the governor has been charged with crimes including trying to sell the Senate seat.
Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate have cited the lack of White's signature as a reason not to allow Burris into the Senate.
White has maintained that his signature is purely symbolic, and the high court agreed in its refusal to grant the motion.
"Because the secretary of state had no duty ... to sign and affix the state seal to the document issued by the governor appointing Roland Burris to the United States Senate, petitioners are not entitled to an order from this court requiring the secretary to perform those acts," the high court wrote in its opinion. "Under the secretary of state act, the secretary's sole responsibility was to register the appointment, which he did."
Um... somebody had better call Harry... how does this guy manage to lose even when he's not even playing?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and his sidekick, Dick Durbin would like you to know that Roland Burris doesn't think they're racist. And seeing as how Burris presents himself so well, and really, really loves his family... Harry will do what he always does: capitulate, this time in a self-created mess, and having allowed an embarassing spectacle to take place at what should have been the triumphal opening of the even more Democratic Senate. Just like I told you he would.
By the way, the signature of the Illinois secretary of state is a ceremonial matter and not at all necessary for Burris to be seated. Durbin and Reid's claims to the contrary are a pathetic sideshow, which White, by the way, resents. Oh, and he's black, too, although I'm sure he's extremely proud of his family...
I think I'll score this one, Rod Blagojevich: 2, Harry Reid: 0.
The cracks in Harry Reid's leaky lifeboat begin to show:
WASHINGTON -- Democratic leaders seeking to bar Roland Burris from the Senate suffered an important crack in support as they prepared to meet with him on Wednesday to begin negotiations over whether he will be able to take the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the outgoing chairwoman of the committee that judges senators' credentials, urged that the Senate seat Burris, arguing that his appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich was lawful regardless of the corruption allegations swirling around the Illinois governor. "If you don't seat Mr. Burris, it has ramifications for gubernatorial appointments all over America," Feinstein told reporters in a Capitol hallway Tuesday. "Mr. Burris is a senior, experienced politician. He has been Attorney General, he has been (Comptroller), and he is very well-respected. I am hopeful that this will be settled."
Whoops! BTW that would be the rules committee that Feinstein is moving on from. And doesn't she want to be governor of California someday? (Her and Meg Whitman... wouldn't that be interesting. The layoff queen leading an economy in crisis...)
The pictures that Harry Reid has got to be dreading just shot across the satellites. Roland Burris, surrounded by aides, security and media, attempted to present his credentials to the secretary of the Senate, and was rejected. He was not allowed into the Senate Chamber after leaving the secretary's office. Afterward, he held a brief press conference in which he and his lawyers promised to pursue their legal options. Here we go.
Harry Reid is using the excuse that the Illinois Secretary of State has not certified Burris' nomination, so the Senate doesn't have to seat him. That may work for today, but guess what? Everyone knows that the real reason Reid, Durbin and company won't accept Burris is that they don't happen to like the guy who nominated him ... that, and Harry and Dick had their own nominees in mind...
News reports suggest Reid may be trying to strike a deal with Burris, in which Burris would promise not to run in 2010. That strikes me as incredible hubris, given that every citizen has a right to run for office. Harry Reid doesn't have the God-given right to determine who the next Senator, or even the candidate in 2010, will be. First off, he isn't smart enough, or tough enough. If this goes to the Supreme Court, my money says Burris wins.
The media hacks are declaring Burris an egomaniac ... as if ALL politicians aren't egomaniacs...
Roland Burris is arriving at the United States Senate as we speak ... or type ... you get the picture. The expectation is that he will be prevented, perhaps bodily, from taking the oath of office as the appointed junior Senator from the state of Illinois. Harry Reid's Waterloo approaches...
On December 19, 1998, U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton was impeached by the United States House of Representatives for allegedly committing perjury, obstructing justice and abusing his presidential powers in the Paula Jones sex harassment case (and the icky, irrelevant Monica Lewinsky scandal.) After the prurient Ken Starr, the Republican House leadership (led by confessed wife thief Bob Livingston, who replaced the disgraced, wife dumping fellatophile Newt Gingrich, and then resigned himself,) and the fatuous press corps had put the country through a full year of bawdy, useless sturm und drang (and about $80 million in wasteful spending,) Clinton was acquitted in the Senate, by a vote of 55-45 on the obstruction charge, and a 50-50 deadlock on the perjury charge, on February 12, 1999. [Photo at left from coolstamps.com]
During the time of impeachment, Bill Clinton continued to exercise the full powers of his office, including operating a joint military campaign with Great Britain that was actively bombing Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Senate did not move to curb his powers. And Clinton felt no burden to stop making appointments during that awful period in his presidency, including the following additions to his State Department:
On December 28, 1998, he appointed Eric James Boswell to a career diplomatic security post in the Office of Foreign Missions.
On December 29, he made a recess appointment of James F. Dobbins to a career post at the Office of European and Canadian Affairs.
And because the impeachment sideshow was just the end of a full year of fruitless investigation by Starr, and sensational media coverage, it's helpful to look at the entire year of 1998, when Clinton managed to make a number of appointments to the federal bench, all of which were acted on by Congress, even as Clinton was "under a cloud." Those included:
*Vote 190+: June 30, 1999 Keith Ellison Southern District of Texas Gary Feess Central District of California Stephen Underhill District of Connecticut W. Allen Pepper Northern District of Mississippi Karen Schreier District of South Dakota
Vote 262: September 8, 1999 Adalberto Jordan Southern District of Florida Vote 263: September 8, 1999 Marsha J. Pechman Western District of Washington
Vote 307: October 5, 1999 Ronnie L. White Eastern District of Missouri
Vote 308: October 5, 1999 Brian T. Stewart District of Utah
Vote 309: October 5, 1999 Raymond C. Fisher 9th Circuit
And Congress didn't even hint at not seating them. In fact, 1998 marked the high water mark for roll call votes on Clinton judicial nominees - there were 13 such votes on lower court picks, more than any year in the Clinton presidency. And by the end of his second term, Clinton had put more judges on the bench than any president before him: fully 47% of those actively serving on the court.
What's the point? Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is in the midst of a pretty ugly scandal; and he is attracting the gaze of the excitable press corps. But he made his Senate appointment before he has been convicted of anything, and before he has even been impeached. By what grounds, legal or ethical, can Harry Reid (who didn't seem to mind seating Clinton appointees during the president's impeachment, and worse, who had no trouble seating the treacherous Joe Lieberman, gavel and all, deny Blago's appointment of Roland Burris?
The Chicago Sun-Times delivered a swift kick in the giblets to our good friend Harry Reid this past week, reporting that he, like Rahm Emanuel, talked to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich about a certain vacated Senate seat. However, while Rahm's wish-list was multi-cultural, the one proffered by our friendly neighborhood Mormon from Nevada, was most certainly not, at least according to Blago aides:
Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn’t want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.
Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis — both democratic congressmen from Illinois — and against Jones — the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama — because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.
[Links added by me.] If you click them, you'll discover what Jackson, Davis and Jones have in common, and what Duckworth and Madigan do. (Hint: the latter two are both women...) But wait! There's more:
Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero confirmed that Reid (D-Nev.) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — the new chief of the Senate Democratic political operation — each called Blagojevich’s campaign office separately Dec. 3. Sources believe that at least portions of the phone conversations are on tape.
Before their contacts, Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Blagojevich to tell him to expect to hear from Senate leadership because they were pushing against Jackson and others, according to statements the governor made to others.
The Reid-Menendez calls came a day before a Dec. 4 conversation overheard on government wiretaps where Blagojevich says he “was getting ‘a lot of pressure’ not to appoint Candidate 5.” Candidate 5 is Jackson.
The calls reveal the varying forces directed at Blagojevich as he weighed the appointment.
So it seems that the Blago "Senate seat for sale" controversy is more complicated than first thought. Clearly, the governor was getting pressure from multiple sources, including Harry Reid, to appoint this person and not that one. So now, should we feel comfortable with Reid opposing Attorney General Roland Burris so strenuously, when we now know, or at least we can infer, that he was dead set against the appointment of three African-Americans, on the very Clinton primary-like basis that "they can't win?" Hm. And guess who Dick Durbin, who was on "This Week" this morning spouting off against the Burris appointment, was supporting for the Senate appointment? Duckworth. Go figure. These guys had, shall we say, a preference, which seemed to suggest doubt that a black candidate, or at least that these three black candidates, could win statewide in two years. But guess what? Burris has done just that -- multiple times.
In the end, Harry Reid will likely do what he always does: he will fold, and hinted as much this morning on "Meet the (pliant) Press" with David "Softball" Gregory. He will have to. It will be tough to physically block Burris from entering the vaunted Senate chamber with the likes of David "The John" Vitter swilling around in there, and with that body having brought home the treacherous Joe Lieberman, hoisted on Reid and Durbin's shoulders, and toasted the felonious Ted Stevens on his way out the door. Hell, Burris would probably be the cleanest guy there.
UPDATE: Reid on MTP this morning had the cheek to mention Danny Davis twice, among the list of "fine people," Burris included, who he'd be more than happy to welcome to the Senate, if only Blago would do the right thing and resign. So now, the Senate majority leader has given to himself, and to his partner in this affair, Lisa Madigan supporter Dick Durbin, the power to force a sitting governor to resign, before said governor has been either impeached or convicted of a crime. Really? You might find this clip from Reid's statement in 1998 on the Ken Starr investigation, and the House's impeachment of President Bill Clinton:
No prosecutor of integrity, of principle, of fairness would have tried to bootstrap a sexual affair into something criminal. A truly independent prosecutor would not make deals time after time with organizations established to embarrass the President, cavort with attorneys for Paula Jones, do business with Linda Tripp and others to entrap the President. A fairminded prosecutor would not have leaked salacious details to the press in an effort to force the target to resign from office. And, most fervently, a principled prosecutor would have the common sense and the common decency not to misuse their office to go all out, no holds barred, to `get' that targeted individual out of pride, anger and envy.
Now, it is not Pat Fitzgerald who is trying to force Blago to resign, it's Harry Reid, former trial lawyer. Meanwhile, Reid claimed that Blagojevich's camp is "making it up" and distorting his calls to Blagojevich and his alleged pooh-poohing the three black Illinoisians from the Senate. To defend himself against a Politico article that suggested he didn't want a black replacement for Obama, he pulled out the old "some of my best friends," argument, saying he'd served in the Senate with Carole Mosely Braun and worked hard to get Ron Kirk elected in Texas. Uh-huh...
Democrats poised to commit fundamental error on Burris
It's hard to believe that Rod Blagojevich could be considered a winner, well, ever, after his nasty travails with Patrick Fitzgerald and his handy wiretap, but it appears that Blago has found a way to win one against an admittedly easy target: Harry Reid and the wussified Senate Democrats. Reports that the Dems plan to block Blago's choice to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, one Roland Burris, by any means necessary, have taken on dramatic proportions:
The Democratic leadership's current contingency plan for next week is reportedly for Burris to be met at the chamber by a doorman telling him he's not allowed inside. If he still tries to go in, armed police officers could intervene to get him away. Burris told the Los Angeles Times that he wants to avoid a scene and have all of this negotiated before he arrives, but it's unlikely that he could negotiate his way towards actually being seated.
And even if Burris does manage to physically enter the chamber, there are still a whole lot of avenues to keep him from being sworn in. The Senate is expected to launch a Rules Committee investigation to determine the legitimacy of his appointment, thus delaying him from being seated. They'll look at everything from the facts of the Blagojevich scandal to Illinois Sec. of State Jesse White's refusal to sign the certificate of appointment. Every undotted "i" and every uncrossed "t" will be scrutinized.
At that point, Burris might just be able to go to court and force the Senate to admit him. Many legal scholars believe he has a genuine case here. But even this could take a while -- which would appear to be the whole point.
Really? Do they really plan to do all of tthat? For real for real??? Because if they do, we will have the intriguing mental picture of the party that used to be the party of segregation sending armed police-like figures to stand at the Senate chamber door, George Wallace-style, to keep a black man from taking up the seat being vacated by the first black president of the United States, who was also the lone black member of the United States Senate, who was nominated to the presidency by the former party of segregation. If the circular irony is killing you, join the club.
UPDATE: Oh my damn, I agree with Pat Buchanan again... except that he completely misses the irony that while the Dems had just one black Senator, the GOP has had none. Nada. And they don't have a single African-American in the House of Representatives, either, and precious few Hispanics. Then again, the GOP isn't on record as being the party of inclusion...
UPDATE 2: A lawyer comments on the almost certain legality of the Burris nomination, as does a professor of election law. The verdict: seat the guy, already. BTW, Burris appeared on PBS' News Hour tonight, and made a very strong case for taking the job. Did I mention that he's the former Illinois attorney general, and ergo, an attorney...?
Rod Blagojevich may be a nut-bag, or a sociopath, or a crook, or maybe all three. But he's no shrinking violet, and he's one heck of a chess player. By appointing a well qualified, respected black man, who just happens to be Illinois only statewide elected black official, to replace the nation's only black Senator, Blago just dared the Senate to tell a brotha 'no':
Brushing aside charges that he tried to sell Illinois' vacant U.S. Senate seat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the post today in defiance of Senate leaders who said they would not admit anyone he selected.
It was an abrupt about-face for Blagojevich, who had said after his Dec. 9 corruption arrest that he favored a special election to find a successor to President-elect Barack Obama. But Blagojevich said he acted after the Democratic-controlled General Assembly declined to approve legislation for a special election.
"Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man," Blagojevich said while introducing Burris at a downtown news conference.
So what will Team Obama do? Issue a statement:
"Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy."
But Blago knew what he was doing:
Blagojevich's move seemed designed to trump fellow Democrats who control the U.S. Senate and have unanimously warned him against making the appointment because of the criminal charges. His choice of Burris, Illinois' first African-American elected statewide, presents senators with the dilemma of saying no to a replacement for Obama, who was the nation's only black senator.
That point was driven home at the news conference by Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago, who said it's a matter of national importance that an African-American replace Obama in the Senate.
"Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the Senate...this is just not a state of Illinois matter," Rush said.
"I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer," Rush also said. "Roland Burris is worthy."
The governor's announcement came less than an hour after U.S. Senate Democratic leadership issued a statement saying the Senate will not seat anyone Blagojevich chooses to fill Illinois' vacant Senate post. The statement also is signed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who has repeatedly urged Blagojevich not to name a replacement for the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
So now Blago has put the Senate, including senior Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, in an unenviable position: they can refuse to seat Burris, and deny a qualified black man the seat, or they can seat him, and watch Blago laugh all the way to the big house. However, things may not look so good for Mr. Burris:
Burris has given more than $20,000 to Blagojevich's campaign fund on his own and through his consulting and law firms, state campaign finance records show. Burris' consulting company received about $290,000 in state contracts with the Illinois Department of Transportation a few years ago, according to state comptroller records.
Burris became the first African-American to win statewide office in 1978, when he won the first of his three terms as comptroller. But Burris repeatedly stalled in his quest for bigger political office. He failed in three consecutive runs for governor--1994, 1998 and 2002, when he ran against Blagojevich--in the Democratic primaries.
Uh oh... well, it was a good game of chicken while it lasted.
The Obama team releases the Blago report, and predictably, there's not much news in it (sorry, Fox News...)
The report was put together by attorney Greg Craig following Blagojevich's arrest for allegedly engaging in a scheme to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat, as well as other state appointments and services. ...
... Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his adviser, Valerie Jarrett, all submitted to interviews with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald last week. Craig said neither Jarrett nor David Axelrod, another senior adviser, had any contact with Blagojevich or his office. The report did say that Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of Obama's and a former Blagojevich cabinet member, was approached "by a member of the Governor's circle," deputy Gov. Louanner Peters, for information.
Obama has portrayed himself as taking a hands-off approach to the governor's decision about who to appoint to his Senate seat. In fact, the report noted that he was very much interested in who would succeed him in the Senate.
Once Jarrett said she was not interested in becoming a senator, Obama asked Emanuel to tell the governor that he would support Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Ill. Comptroller Dan Hynes and Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth. Later, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cheryl Jackson, a former Blagojevich spokeswoman who heads the Chicago Urban League, were added to the list.
Probably the only new piece of news to come out of the report is that despite the assertions of the Chicago papers, and all the brouhaha those assertions created for "Senate Candidate #5,", Jesse Jackson Jr. WAS on Obama's short list. Oh, and Valerie Jarrett considered the idea of Blago heading HHS to be "ridiculous," which it was, given the games he played with Children's Hospital. I'm sure this won't stop the Roger Simons and Fox News' of the world from continuing to go after Obama on this, but there you go. If you're still exercised after that, read the report online at TPM here.
... or does "Meet the Press" with David Gregory suck? That softball interview with Condi Rice today was a low point for the show. Meanwhile, on the other side of the low-end of the dial, George Stephanopoulos, the onetime political flack, is proving to be twice the journalist that Gregory, the supposed pro, is. He did a much more in-depth, interesting interview with Joe Biden than Gregory's bland Condi love and weak roundtable, and George actually broke some news:
Sources tell me that the Obama team's review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich.
The contact, described as a "pro-forma" courtesy call, came as Emanuel was named Chief of Staff for Obama. Most of the discussion concerned Emanuel's Congressional seat (which had previously been held by Blagojevich), with only a "passing reference" to the Senate vacancy, according to these sources. No deal for the Senate vacancy was discussed.
Speculation in Washington and Chicago has been swirling for a week now over what the Obama team’s report would find. Until now, the contents of that report have been kept sealed, at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Last Wednesday, Obama said he found it “a little bit frustrating” that the report had not yet been released.
The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris. During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed. The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.
To which Frank James of the Chicago Tribune's "Swamp" replies:
It struck me from the beginning of this that there probably was no 'there' there since USA Fitzgerald signaled very strongly that he wasn't going after anyone on Obama's team. It seemed like an attempt by us media types to raise questions to keep the pot stirring more than anything else.
Clearly. And shock of all shocks, all that blather will turn out to be for nothing. Poor dears. Back to end of the year countdowns for all of you!
Here's a fact the media glossed over: remember when Jesse Jackson Jr. was finally fingered as "Senate Candidate #5" in the Blago scandal? Well, what did Jr. do? No, besides call a press conference and start doing sit-down interviews, stat!...? He lawyered up. Well guess who else hired counsel:
In news that is very ominous for Candidate 5 and his family, Jesse Jackson Jr is not the only one who has lawyered up since Blago's arrest on Tuesday. Jesse Jackson Sr has done so too (h/t nextstopchicago and choochmac).
Also, the congressman's father, Jesse Jackson Sr., has retained legal council following the Blagojevich arrest.
That's from way back on December 11. And it's just one of five reasons the Blago scandal really, really sucks for Jesse Jr:
#5. His family's rep is already tainted, by his dad's past ... um ... deal making. And now, he's hired a lawyer? Not good.
#4. It's now clear that Jr. wasn't on the list that Rahm Emanuel submitted to Blago of preferred Senate candidates, which means that either Team Obama didn't feel that Jackson could win the seat statewide, or that there is some other, unknown problem between the Jackson and Obama camps. Either way, not good news.
#3. Jackson might actually be innocent. In fact, the latest news is that he's been informing on Blago for a decade. But if that's the case, one has to wonder how his reputation within his own community might suffer from finding out that he's a federal rat.
#2. Jackson might not be so innocent. If he has known what Blago wanted in exchange for appointments for ten years, why did he allow his emissaries to create even the impression that he was willing to pay the piper? The chain of events certainly makes the Congressman look naive. And naivete does not a Senator make.
#1. No matter how you slice it, Jackson's possibilities of becoming a Senator, already slim, have sunk to none. And with his prospects, probably go his influence with the incoming adminstration -- something he worked tirelessly during the campaign to cultivate.
As if he doesn't have enough problems, (though he did have some better luck with the Illinois Supreme Court today,) Rod "Blago" Blagojevich is now being accused of being a mob-paying bookie back in the day:
A former Chicago lawyer who went undercover for the FBI said that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.) was once a bookmaker with ties to the mafia.
Robert Cooley, who testified for the FBI in corruption cases, told ABC 7 in Chicago that Blagojevich paid the mob to let him operate as a bookie.
"When I was working with government wearing wire, I reported, I observed Rod, the present governor, who was running a gambling operation out in the western suburbs," Cooley said. "He was paying street tax to the mob out there."
Cooley also worked as a police officer, and his undercover work and testimony led to the convictions of 24 politicians, cops, judges and lawyers on corruption charges.
Cooley said he wasn't surprised to see Blagojevich in legal trouble.
"I predicted five years ago when he ran the first time that he was a hands on person who would be selling every position in the state of Illinois and that it exactly what happened," he said.
Read and watch the full story here. Of course, Blago's real crime might be that he's still wearing his high school hair. Get a load of this:
The pic was listed on Ebay, and is from Blago's 1975 Foremanual Foreman high school vol. 36 yearbook, Chicago, Illinois. The item is no longer for sale.
Jesse Jackson Jr. just completed a press conference in which he emphatically defended himself against the taint of Blago's corruption, saying he believed, and still believes, that he would be the most qualified and best candidate for the U.S. Senate based on his record, including 13 years in the House of Representatives, and he said that at no time did he engage in "pay to play" politics with Blago. A couple of key lines:
JJ said he:
Met with Gov. Blagojevich for the first time in four years on Tuesday, and presented my qualifications and my record. ... The media saw me enter Gov. Blagojevich's office. ... The media saw me exit the governor's office.
He added that he did not send an emissary with the explicit or implicit message to Blago that he would fundraise for the governor in exchange for an appointment. Said Jax:
I had no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing. I did not initate or authorize anyone to promise Gov. Blagojevich anything on my behalf
It was clear from the presentation that Jr. is still very much stalking that Senate seat, and that he hopes to cleanse himself enough to get Obama to not stand in his way. He still wants it, baby.