Please read the Criminal Complaint filed by David W. Cain, Special Agent of the FBI. Details of the conversations Blagojevich had with his operatives about Barack Obama and the possibility Barack Obama would strike several deals with Blagojevich regarding the open Senate seat are discussed, and yes, quotations are provided.
I enjoy this gem from pages 63-64, where a telephone conversation between Blagojevich, Advisor B, a political consultant in Washington, DC, another Washington, DC, political consultant and John Haris, the Governor’s General Counsel, is discussed:
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). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” Later in the phone call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that absent getting something back, ROD BLAGOJEVICH will not pick Senate Candidate 1. HARRIS re-stated ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s thoughts that they should ask the President-elect for something for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s financial security as well as maintain his political viability. HARRIS said they could work out a three-way deal with SEIU and the President-elect 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.
Senate Candidate 1 is Valerie Jarrett, an Obama advisor who also served as Daley’s Chief of Staff. Jarrett is very close to the Obamas. Senate Candidate 4 is either Dean Martinez, Bob Greenlee or Louanner Peters, all of whom are Deputy Governors of Illinois.
The “specifically named individual” is Michelle Obama, who was appointed to the Board of TreeHouse Foods, a WAL-MART vendor, on June 25, 2005, even though she did not have experience in the private sector previous to the appointment. Here are the benefits the Obama family received as a result of Michelle Obama’s stint with the WAL-MART vendor:
According to the couple’s tax returns, Mrs Obama earned $51,200 (£25,700) for her work as a non-executive director on Treehouse’s board last year, on top of the $271,618 salary she was paid as a vice-president of the University of Chicago Hospitals.
She also received 7,500 Treehouse stock options, worth a further $72,375, as she did the previous year, when she banked a $45,000 salary from the company.
Michelle Obama is the “specifically named individual” who was able to sit on corporate boards, although she lacks the experience of Blagojevich’s wife. And notice how Michelle Obama’s position with the WAL-MART vendor helped alleviate the “financial stress” of the Obama family at a time when they were purchasing a mansion from Rezko they could not afford.
Why is this relevant?
Blagojevich, according to the FBI complaint, thought Barack Obama could appoint his wife to corporate boards if he were to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the open Senate seat vacated by Obama. I quote pages 54-55 of the criminal complaint filed by Special Agent of the FBI David Cain:
By law, after the President-elect’s resignation of his position as a U.S. Senator, which was effective on November 16, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has sole authority to appoint his replacement for the two years remaining of the President-elect’s Senate term. See 10 ILCS 5/25-8. During the course of this investigation, agents have intercepted a series of communications regarding the efforts of ROD BLAGOJEVICH, JOHN HARRIS, and others to misuse this power to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for ROD BLAGOJEVICH and his family. In particular, ROD BLAGOJEVICH has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services). ROD BLAGOJEVICH has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for his wife’s placement on paid corporate boards or ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s placement at a private foundation in a significant position with a substantial salary. ROD BLAGOJEVICH has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in funding for a non-profit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship.
Blagojevich, in other words, assumed Obama would appoint his wife to a Board for the political favor of selecting Valerie Jarrett for the Senate seat. Blagojevich is not a stupid man. Indeed, he only assumed Obama would participate in this “pay to play” scheme, for he knows Obama is acutely aware how the game is played in Illinois and in Chicago. This explains why Blagojevich mentions Michelle Obama and her lack of qualifications to serve on the Board of TreeHouse Foods when he discusses how Obama could appoint Mrs. Blagojevich to a Board for the political favor of appointing Jarrett to the US Senate seat. Michelle, after all, was appointed to sit on the Board of TreeHouse foods AFTER Obama was elected to the US Senate. Moreover, Michelle Obama’s salary at The University of Chicago nearly TRIPLED after her husband gained the power to submit earmark requests on her employer’s behalf. Just appoint the spouse to a Board and increase his or her salary if you need a political favor from an Illinois politician. That is how the “play to pay” game is played.
Blagojevich understands this, and he knows Obama understands this. Why else does FBI Agent Cain report the following discussion that occurred on Nov 8, 2008?
On November 8, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS about the Senate seat. During the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS discussed whether it would be possible to obtain a financial benefit for ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife in relation to the Senate seat. Specifically, ROD BLAGOJEVICH referred to his wife’s Series 7 license and asked “is there a play here, with these guys, with her” to work for a firm in Washington or New York at a significantly better salary than she is making now. Also, ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted to know whether SEIU could do something to get his wife a position at Change to Win until ROD BLAGOJEVICH could take a position at Change to Win.
Michelle Obama, Blagojevich implies, received an appointment to a Board for which she was not qualified as a result of a “pay to play” scheme. What about his wife? After all, Obama ally Valerie Jarrett wants the Senate seat. What about Blagojevich’s wife? What about Blagojevich’s “financial stress?”
Blagojevich and his advisers only thought of this as a possibility, for they know Obama has already played the game. Again, these are smart men who know the rules of the game. Why else would they think Obama would participate in a “pay to play” scheme? Michelle was paid for someone to play, they thought. What about Mrs. Blagojevich? Besides, Mrs. Blagojevich has a Series 7 license. All Michelle has is a license to practice law that was revoked as a result of a court order in 1993.
Blagojevich thought Obama would “pay to play,” as the Obamas have been engaged in “pay to play” schemes in the past. That is what Blagojevich thought, and that is why the Obamas are yet again mentioned in a complaint filed in a Court of law.