Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is out on bail after being arrested for plotting to sell the Illinois Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama.

Is this Obama’s first real scandal?  Virginia’s own Eric Cantor would like it to be.  He is quoted in an AP story posted by MSNBC with the headline: “Obama tries to gain distance from Ill. governor: Investigation comes at inopportune time and could involve him.”

It’s Obama’s first big headache since his election last month, and Republicans were anything but eager to let it go away.

Said Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the new GOP House whip: “The serious nature of the crimes listed by federal prosecutors raises questions about the interaction with Gov. Blagojevich, President-elect Obama and other high ranking officials who will be working for the future president.”

Added Robert M. “Mike” Duncan, chairman of the Republican National Committee: “Americans expect strong leadership, but President-elect Barack Obama’s comments on the matter are insufficient at best.”

In Chicago, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors were making “no allegations” that Obama was aware of any scheming.

And Blagojevich himself, in taped conversations cited by prosecutors, suggested that Obama wouldn’t be helpful to him. Even if the governor was to appoint a candidate favored by the Obama team, Blagojevich said, “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation.”

Disdain for Obama
The two Illinois politicians have never been especially close and have largely operated in different Democratic Party camps in the state. Blagojevich’s disdain for Obama was clear in court documents; he is quoted as calling the president-elect a vulgar term in one phone conversation recorded by the FBI.

Still, at the very least, the episode amounts to a distraction for Obama at an inopportune time just six weeks before he’s sworn into office. It also raises the specter of notorious Chicago politics, an image Obama has tried to distance himself from during his career.

Washington Post coverage

NY Times coverage

Also from AP, Is Gov. Blagojevich still going to appoint the next Illinois Senator?

13 thoughts on “Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested in Corruption Scandal

  1. ShellyB

    Blagojevich’s approval rating in Illinois has dropped from its previous level of 13 percent down to 4 percent. Who are the four percent of people who still support him?

    The man sounds like he is mentally ill.

    Did you see him on TV? Mentally ill and corrupt are two big disqualifiers in my book. And he wanted to run for reelection. His chances are below Sen. Ted Stevens or Rep. William Jefferson’s, both of whom lost.

  2. Did you see him on TV? Mentally ill and corrupt are two big disqualifiers in my book. And he wanted to run for reelection. His chances are below Sen. Ted Stevens or Rep. William Jefferson’s, both of whom lost.

  3. Simon Stone

    That dude is a thug for sure. A comparison to Tony Soprano is not an unfair comparison.

    I hope the new prez elected doesn’t get swept up in this scandal.

    I am sure there are gleeful repubs out there.

  4. Innocent until proven guilty?

    Not hardly.

  5. NotGregLetiecq

    If Obama had vacated a Senate seat where a Republican attempted to abuse power in appointing a replacement, would anyone bother to try to make this an Obama scandal?

  6. I am reading Theodore Rex now. During TR’s time Senators were selected. What is up with the governor’s hair? Blagojevich needs to cut his bangs and IL needs to hold a special election.

  7. Moon-howler

    Noooooooooo!

    I just got an email saying Jesse’s son tried to buy the seat. Does anyone have any info on this allegation?

  8. Witness Too

    I heard on NPR that Jessie Jackson’s son has been told by the Justice Department that he is not suspected of any wrong doing, but he is the “Senate Candidate Number 5” that Blagojevich believed he could get money out of him.

    My thinking is that if the Justice Department had anything on Jackson, they would have pressed charges rather than telling him he is not suspected of wrong doing.

  9. ShellyB

    I guess this story is on the news too much for anyone to want to discuss it here?

    Well, I’m still waiting to hear a good reason to blame this on Obama. A new poll puts his approval rating at 66 percent. I guess this is based on his press conferences and cabinet picks. Bush is at 18 percent in the same poll.

  10. Moon-howler

    Someone will try, ShellyB, someone will try. I had to turn the tv off it got so monotonous.

  11. what’s all this talk about calling for Blagojevich to “resign?” … “throw him in prison” sounds a lot more fitting

    it gives me chills to see how calm and collected he continues to act

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