Illinois Governor Blagojevich Indicted

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clarence Page, syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and other national publications and Marcus Gilmer, editor of, talks about the recent arrest and indictment of the Illinois Governor and his top aide on corruption charges.

Question of the Day: What is your all-time favorite government corruption case?


Marcus Gilmer and Clarence Page

Comments [53]

MacBernac from Minnesota

C. Kennedy needs to reconsider her pursuit of Clinton's Senate seat, in light of the Blagojevich debacle. Acquiring the seat by any other means than an election raises a red flag.

Dec. 20 2008 09:16 PM
seth from Long Island

Obama should call for Blagojevich to resign ASAP.

Chris Matthews had a field day with this story last nite running a McCain ad which tried to link Obama to Rezko and Blagojevich.

The Republicans will try to smear Obama w/Blagojevich.

Obama's team has to stay in front of this story and if there were any contacts between them and Blago they need to tell us and not wait for the media to discover the info.

Dec. 10 2008 01:51 PM
Rabelais from Wahington Heights

Q: What is my favorite all-time government corruption case?
A: It's a tossup between Watergate and the result of the 2000 presidential election.

Dec. 10 2008 01:30 PM
George from Bay Ridge

I don't understand why the governor tried to sell the Senate seat for only $500,000. He should have held out for a few million.

But seriously, the incident involving Paul Powell who was Secretary of State in Illinois was interesting. He was found carrying $800,000 in a shoebox.

Dec. 10 2008 01:16 PM
John Celardo from Fanwood, NJ

I was commuting to St. Peter’s College from Staten Island in the early ‘60s when Cornelius Gallagher was convicted of cavorting with the mob. It was like icing on the Hudson County corruption cake. It’s not the biggest political scandal, but it’s fun to think about history repeating itself.

Dec. 10 2008 11:44 AM
Dr.L.McLean( from Brooklyn

It is amazing how cavalier most of the writers are about this event in Chicago. I can't say favorite; the events in Chicago are
alarming and people should be outraged that a politician is so blatant about his/her corruption.
Have we gotten so jaded that we now take something like this for granted? I also agree that the Bush administration's firing of the US attorneys was also horrific. Additionally, the real reason the U.S. invaded Iraq, so get contracts to rebuild it for Haliburton is also a scandal. We are sinking too low!!!

Dec. 10 2008 11:42 AM
Andrew from Queens

Favorite case of political corruption... Huey Long, the governor of Louisiana who is perhaps the secular patron saint of political corruption, was rumored to have sent his bodyguards to take a reporter from the Picayune on a "fishing trip" in the run-up to election. Apparently the reporter was brave enough to have penned an article about the Governor's sexual peccadillos...

Dec. 10 2008 11:41 AM
Dennis from Manhattan

My "favorite" government corruption case is the Scooter Libby case. Did the Bush adminstration become viewed as a security risk by the intelligence community?

Did anyone lose their security clearance for outing Valerie Plame? If yes, did they lose their job? If no, why not?

Dec. 10 2008 11:37 AM
Zak from Washington Heights

Man do I wish the late great Mike Royko were around for this. Ubi est mea?

Dec. 10 2008 11:37 AM
Deborah Romano from Brooklyn, NY

My favorite case of public corruption wasn't the worst but it was the one I watched from close up. Several years ago I was working for Greg O'Connell, a commercial developer in Red Hook, Brooklyn when he was trying to buy a waterfront warehouse from the Port Authority -- a building that later became the Fairway Market. Our local City Council Rep -- Angel Rodriguez -- solicited a bribe in exchange for his vote of approval on the City Council. Greg -- a former NYC detective -- wore a wire for 8 month, and Rodriguez was eventually convicted. At the time it seemed pretty low level, but by the time the government was ready to indict, term limits had been imposed on elected officials and suddenly Angel Rodriguez was among the most senior city councilpeople and a strong contender for Speaker. Luckily he went to jail before the election.

Dec. 10 2008 11:35 AM
Marcus from NYC

So Illinois Governor Blagovecich has been arrested for apparently offering to sell Barack Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder. Geez, Illinois, get it right. Award the seat to an underqualified celebrity political novice based on unude pressure from her uncle and his cronies like we do in New York

Dec. 10 2008 11:31 AM
Jason from New York

How about Bush v. Gore?

Dec. 10 2008 11:24 AM
Hugh Maguire from NYC

Excuse me, but I was amazed that Mr. Page insisted that the Trib did not withhold information at the prosecutors request. But now I read they did indeed go with such a request eight weeks ago. I know this because the Trib its self published a story on it!!,0,2227525.story

Dec. 10 2008 10:58 AM
Steve Wing from Milford, Connecticut

What's with the govenor's hair??? If that's a hairpiece that should be reason enough to indite.

Dec. 10 2008 10:48 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Michael (14)

Actually, the media did report on Obama's dark, not so distant past. Obama sat in a church that preached racism for 20 years and somehow came out of that as a man of hope. It seems to me that if we can overlook that, selling a senate seat may even be minor.

Dec. 10 2008 10:47 AM
Laura from Manhattan

Political Corruption. Funny? Now when it hurts. If Blago wanted money AND all the candidates were tops, that's one thing.......But my #1 political corruption story...still developing....Department of Justice, Bush replacing good judges with loyal Bushies......

Favorite citation:

"Speech in Congress on Presidential Removal Power

June 16, 1789

The danger then consists merely in this: the president can displace from office a man whose merits require that he should be continued in it. What will be the motives which the president can feel for such abuse of his power, and the restraints that operate to prevent it? In the first place, he will be im-peachable by this house, before the senate, for such an act of mal-administration; for I contend that the wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject him to impeachment and removal from his own high trust. But what can be his motives for displacing a worthy man? It must be that he may fill the place with an unworthy creature of his own."

Dec. 10 2008 10:31 AM
Yosif from Manhattan

That would have to be Dick Cheney and Halliburton government contracts - prosecution pending....

Dec. 10 2008 10:31 AM
Ed from Jersey city

Vernon Jordan brought Obama to Kerry. It wasn't Blagojevich

Dec. 10 2008 10:29 AM
david from NYC

It looks like President Elect Obama's transition to President is going to be off to a very bumpy start with many unanswered questions that are going to plague his administration, just like President Bill Clinton's plagued his the entire time he was president.

Dec. 10 2008 10:29 AM
Ben from Brooklyn

I'm fine discussing Illinois, but I believe I just heard one of Brian's guests say "CHUT-spa" as the pronunciation of the Yiddish word Chutzpa.

As in he rhymed it with SHUT-SPA.

That should be an automatic expulsion from New York public radio. Or he should at least be corrected.

Dec. 10 2008 10:28 AM
jennifer from manhattan

Speaking of Emmanuel, he wants a "seat warmer" to keep his seat safe for him until he wants it back.

Since when did Senate seats become private property able to be gifted or put into storage?

Dec. 10 2008 10:25 AM


That reminds me your hot dogs are just wrong!

Dec. 10 2008 10:25 AM
aulaire from valley cottage, NY

THIS is my all-time favorite government corruption case. That it would occur exactly now, while Obama's in the Neverland between election and inauguration, puts the whole catastrophe in neon lights. Blagojevich is a museum-quality sociopath, and his political terainne--Illinois-- was inhabited by Obama at the same time. If this were a novel, it would be on the best seller list.

Dec. 10 2008 10:23 AM
Stephen from Manhattan

The U.S. Supreme Court handing the contested 2000 election to George W. Bush has to take the prize for the most appalling incident of government corruption. Let's not forget G.H.W. Bush appointed two of those justices one of whom was about as qualified as Sarah Palin is to be vice president.

Dec. 10 2008 10:22 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

What does this surprise anyone? As long as it costs as much as it does to campaign for political office on any level in this country this will be more the norm! Person without money or access to money are unable to run. Look at what is happening with Hillary Clinton's seat in New York. Anyone who does not have access to money will not be appointed to that position....
(This is not meant as a comment on the qualifications of and likely appointment of Caroline Kennedy.) But one needs to ask these questions....

Dec. 10 2008 10:22 AM
Jane from Illinois from Carbondale, IL

As a state employee I am wondering if the governor had to take the State Ethics exam we are required to take every year to ensure we are aware of the rights and wrongs of work related issues.

Dec. 10 2008 10:22 AM
Karen Kernan from Branford CT

Four of the last eight Illinois governors crossed the law. Perhaps that's some of the reason for the mirth.

Dec. 10 2008 10:21 AM

More outrageous that selling a senate seat, in this situation, is perfectly legal.

Dec. 10 2008 10:21 AM
Robert Rand from tarrytown

"fourth governor since (the 1970s) to be put into jail." i'm from illinois, but i must ask, why do illinoisans elect such people? is there no hint of a character flaw during the election campaigns?

Dec. 10 2008 10:21 AM
William Dince from NYC

It all seems to be part of a larger issue, where the people running our government seem to feel that part of the position involves "getting rich." How many of the people we hear about each day on the news are not millionaires at this point. It adds to our feeling so disconnected from the people who fill these positions.

Dec. 10 2008 10:21 AM
The Truth from Atlanta/New York

Votes are traded all the time in politics, this is only an issue because of President Elect Obama.

Clearly there are people in high places still trying to ruin him, conspiracy theory 101.

Dec. 10 2008 10:20 AM
sean from Prospect Heights

Mine is fictional: Senator Clay Davis of The Wire

Dec. 10 2008 10:20 AM
Robert from Manhattan

Assuming that he hasn't fooled us all, how did Obama rise from this cesspool honest, popular and untainted?

I would love to know Clarence Page's thoughts on this.

Dec. 10 2008 10:19 AM
Karen Kernan from Branford CT

four out of the last 8 Illinois governors ended up in legal trouble -- perhaps that's why the mirth in the public response.

Dec. 10 2008 10:19 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Isn’t this like asking who your all-time favorite serial rapist is, what’s your all-time favorite genocide, what case of voter intimidation really gets you off?
Tasteless or desperate… can’t decide which one.

Did Rupert Murdoch buy WNYC?

Dec. 10 2008 10:18 AM
Marco from New York

In a sense petty chiselers like Charlie Rangel or Duke Cunningham are worse than people like Governor Blago who go for the big they understand the word chutzpah in the Midwest?

Dec. 10 2008 10:17 AM
Alvin from Manhattan

The events in Ilinois remind us that we should keep an eye on NY Gov. Paterson when he replaces Sen. Clinton. Edward Kennedy wants Caroline to be appointed, presumably for use as a stepping stone to higher office a la RFK. There are other pressures and temptations Gov. Paterson must deal with in this appointment. Why not have a quick election before the Senate re-convenes? Why can't Illinois do the same?

Dec. 10 2008 10:16 AM
Owen from Rochester

As a former Chicagoan, this is pretty embarrassing. I wish my home city and state weren't national symbols of petty corruption. On the other hand, I'm not remotely surprised, and I'm happy to see Blago go down. We always knew he was a crooked moron.

Dec. 10 2008 10:16 AM
david from NYC

Brian, its funny how everything in politics is connected to corruption and backroom deals. part of this corruption case is that the Governer of Chicago was trying to get SEIU, to give his wife a position earning at least $300k a year, 1199 union in nyc is part of and falls under the same umbrella of SEIU, recently one of 1199's V.P.'s Patrick Gaspard was given a top position running President Elect Obama's political office in washington. I dont know all the details but I am sure this job offer is tied to all the funding and support given to then Senator Obama's political campaign by 1199 SEIU.

Dec. 10 2008 10:15 AM
michaelw from INWOOD

We'll never know how much Obama was involved or how closely he is associated with x-governor Blagojevich because the media will not report anything negative about Obama.

Look at how many pictures of Obama smoking have been published. none.

You can't come from the most corrupt state and not have a little slime on you.

Dec. 10 2008 10:07 AM
Elizabeth from Queens

Superf88; clever point

Dec. 10 2008 10:04 AM


That reminds me -- has nobody called Rami Khouri on this?

Dec. 10 2008 10:02 AM
Rich Perez from Bay Shore

Selling a Senate seat for personal gain when one is supposed to be exercising his fiduciary obligation to the people of Illinois is so bleeping wrong.

Dec. 10 2008 09:59 AM

OMG -- you mean we came THAT CLOSE to having a US Governor appoint a US Senator -- without a public vote?


Dec. 10 2008 09:56 AM
Samuel from NYC

How 'bout the governor first gets convicted of something before we all start throwing around accusations. Ill I've heard is that he said swear words combined with some stupid and dumb things. C'mon this is crazy give the guy a break!

Dec. 10 2008 09:14 AM
AWM from UWS

Dec. 10 2008 09:13 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


Unfortunately, Clarence Page is the only person left working at the Chicago Tribune. Governor Blagojevich had the others fired.

Dec. 10 2008 08:42 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


The part of the “process” that I think you may be undervaluing is this. Politicians routinely accept money from special interests and then end up voting in Congress for the issues these very special interests endorse. Everyone knows it, and all that is required is a politician to say, “I accept the money but it doesn’t influence my votes.” In such a culture, is it really that different to sell a senate seat or to sell influence? I don’t think so.
My goodness, just look at Joe Biden who has taken tons of money from special interests who have an interest in Delaware tax codes being friendly to big business (this is not a dig at Dems, I know Republicans are just as guilty). Taking money to get re-elected by interests who are interested in certain governmental influence really isn’t any different then collecting money for just flat out selling a Senate seat.

Dec. 10 2008 08:40 AM
Robert from NYC

Is Clarence Page the only person currently working at the Tribune? I know what he's going to say I've seen him already on this subject on about 4 other news programs. Can we hear some other voices, please?

Dec. 10 2008 08:37 AM
RCT from NYC

This isn't about the political process at all. There's a big difference between what Blagojevich allegedly did and what politicians ordinarily do. Blagojevich is nuts; read the complaint. Among his bright ideas was that he might intimidate Warren Buffet and Bill Gates into giving him a job.

The real issue is how sociopaths like Blagojevich occasionally -- or more than occasionally -- slip into positions of power and influence. While they usually are identified and sidelined before they do too much damage -- unless their pathology happens to take the form of serial homicide -- and I don't think, given the "vetting" process, that someone as crazy as Blagojevich could be elected President, it's surprising that her and other lunatics make it is as far as they do. Charisma can be an indication of pathology.

Dec. 10 2008 08:31 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

What I also meant to add in my previous post is that I think there is little difference between trading a vote, selling a vote for campaign contributions (which happens all the time) and selling a senate seat.

Dec. 10 2008 08:06 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

Is it possible that Illinois Governor Blagojevich got caught acting in a way that is actually more part of the norm then some unusual or uncommon behavior? Don’t get me wrong, it is sick the way he acted, but, votes are “traded” all the time in politics. I will wonder aloud how many wives of senators, governors and other politicians sit on cushy, well paying jobs that are somehow connected to pork spending, political decisions and votes? Either Governor Blagojevich is uncommonly stupid…or his brash, open, scandalous behavior just seemed normal to him because of the common corruption of power.

Dec. 10 2008 07:53 AM

Let's deal with something more important. Monday's P.M. Press Conference.

"Should the state members of the Electoral College cast their votes for Mr. Obama in the face of such overwhelming evidence, and without verification of Mr. Obama's eligibility, they would be committing treason to the Constitution," said Schulz.

Dec. 10 2008 01:17 AM

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