Fox News reports on Blagojevich efforts to bribe Obama advisors – Focus on Emanuel

Lots of focus today on the two-hour conference call between Blago’s Illinois team and some unnamed advisors and consultants in Washington DC. Although I do not understand Obama’s legalistic denials of contact with Blago, it appears that he did not authorize any deals over the Senate seat. His first choice of for the White House, Rahm Emanuel may have been involved and has not addressed the claims that he might be one of the advisors in touch with Blago.
In the criminal complaint, Blagojevich becomes especially angry at one point when it becomes clear that Obama would not deal at this time. Here is the excerpt from pages 63-64:

ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois).

Obama supporters will see in this a commendable unwillingness to deal. Those who are suspicious of Obama may see something else. Blago is informed he must “‘suck it up’ for two years and do nothing.” Why is the sucking for only two years? Obviously angry, Blago anticipated something more from Obama. What in their relationship would give Blago any idea that he could make a quid pro quo with Obama?
Blago’s advisors do not the like the two year span. They say on pages 64-65,

One of ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s advisors said he likes the idea, it sounds like a good idea, but advised ROD BLAGOJEVICH to be leery of promises for something two years from now. ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife said they would take the job now. Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others on the phone call discussed various ways ROD BLAGOJEVICH can “monetize” the relationships he is making as Governor to make money after ROD BLAGOJEVICH is no longer Governor. Later on November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Advisor A discussed the open Senate seat. Among other things, ROD BLAGOJEVICH raised the issue of whether the President-elect could help get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on “paid corporate boards right now.” Advisor A responded that he “think[s] they could” and that a “President-elect. . . can do almost anything he sets his mind to.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will appoint “[Senate Candidate 1] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fucking give me anything . . . then I’ll fucking go [Senate Candidate 5].” (Senate Candidate 5 is publicly reported to be interested in the open Senate seat). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if his wife could get on some corporate boards and “picks up another 150 grand a year or whatever” it would help ROD BLAGOJEVICH get through the next several years as Governor.

Blago’s advisors and someone on the call begin talking about how something positive could happen for Blago within the two year period. Blago says essentially if I get something monetary now then Valerie Jarrett (Candidate #1) will be appointed; if not then I will send up Jesse Jackson, Jr. (#5).
FoxNews looked at this earlier tonight with special attention to the timing of Valerie Jarrett’s interest then lack of interest.

PS – Mr. Emanuel, how hard is it to just say no?
Is this Emanuel?

On November 13, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted to be able to call “[President-elect Advisor]” and tell President-elect Advisor that “this has nothing to do with anything else we’re working on but the Governor wants to put together a 501(c)(4)” and “can you guys help him. . . raise 10, 15 million.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he wanted “[President-elect Advisor] to get the word today,” and that when “he asks me for the Fifth CD thing I want it to be in his head.” (The reference to the “Fifth CD thing” is believed to relate to a seat in the United States House of Representatives from Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others were determining whether ROD BLAGOJEVICH has the power to appoint an interim replacement until a special election for the seat can be held.).

UPDATE: 12/12/08 – Looks like Emanuel is indeed the focus. As this report points out, one would expect conversations and they are not illegal. The issue will be for the Obama administration what Emanuel said on those taped calls.

Video of Gov. Blagojevich discussing plans for Obama Senate seat

No mention here of a meeting with President-elect Obama. But Rod “Show Me the Money” Blagojevich puts on a good show:

In light of yesterday’s criminal complaint, there are quite a few SNL skits begging to be written. Stunning, just stunning.
Some quotes and points of interest in this tape:
Blagojevich hopes to name the Senator by Christmas or by Jan 1, 2009 but did not want to overpromise since (at 5:26) “there could be some other circumstances and factors that develop” (guess so).
He said (at about 5:40) the process begins immediately (although it had already begun according to this October 30, 2008 article in the Chicago Tribune indicating Blago and Obama had already spoken about it).
At 5:45, Blago says Obama’s thoughts on his replacement would have “a great deal of weight.”
At 6:10, he says he is looking for a Senator that shares “the values that make us Democrats.”
Blago’s may really believe health care should be a “fundamental human right”, as he says at 6:24, but even this human right is subject to “pay to play” if the criminal complaint is to be believed. From the complaint:

During his testimony, Levine described a plan to manipulate the Planning Board to enrich himself and Friends of Blagojevich. The plan centered on an entity commonly known as Mercy Hospital (“Mercy”) that was attempting to obtain a CON [certificate of need] to build a new hospital in Illinois. Levine knew the contractor hired to help build the hospital. In approximately November 2003, on behalf of the contractor, Levine checked with Rezko to determine whether Rezko wanted Mercy to obtain its CON. Rezko informed Levine that Mercy was not going to receive its CON. According to Levine, he asked Rezko whether it would matter to Rezko if Mercy’s construction contractor paid a bribe to Rezko and Levine and, in addition, made a contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH. Levine testified that Rezko indicated that such an arrangement would change his view on the Mercy CON.
Rezko has admitted that he manipulated the Mercy vote based on Mercy’s agreement to make a contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, which agreement he states was communicated to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, but denies that Levine offered a personal bribe to Rezko as well.

A more blatant “pay to play” scheme involved another hospital – Children’s Hospital. Page 34 of the complaint reads:

According to Individual A, on October 8, 2008, during a discussion of fundraising from various individuals and entities, the discussion turned to Children’s Memorial Hospital, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Individual A words to the effect of “I’m going to do $8 million for them. I want to get [Hospital Executive 1] for 50.” Individual A understood this to be a reference to a desire to obtain a $50,000 campaign contribution from Hospital Executive 1, the Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Memorial Hospital. Individual A said that he/she understood ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s reference to $8 million to relate to his recent commitment to obtain for Children’s Memorial Hospital $8 million in state funds through some type of pediatric care reimbursement. As described in further detail below, intercepted phone conversations between ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others indicate that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is contemplating rescinding his commitment of state funds to benefit Children’s Memorial Hospital because Hospital Executive 1 has not made a recent campaign contribution to ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

Then at 7:50, Blago notes that in Illinois, funds are spent for public works such as “schools and hospitals.” How nice. Taxpayers provide money for construction of facilities and politicians get contributions in order to direct those funds to friendly benefactors. One great circle of life.