19 Charges Against Blago, 16 of Them Felonies, But Not Much St. Pat the Prosecutor Can Hang His Halo On
The AP has reported that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald finally indicted impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday, April 2, on 16 felony charges, including conspiracy, attempted extortion, wire fraud and racketeering.
This all stinks to high heaven Fitzgerald needs four months to indict a guy who, in his words, was on a “crime spree” and then doesn’t even have a press conference to announce the particulars of the indictment? Quite a bit different from the media circus he ringmastered last December to drive Blago from office. Plus, his key witness is apparently the jailed slimebucket Tony Rezko. Rezko is doing hard time in solitary and might be amenable to saying whatever Mr. Fed wants to hear to shave off some months from his sentence not what you’d call a stellar witness.
Charges that Blago used his influence to arrange job interviews for his wife with companies doing business with the state where she wasn’t hired, used ‘improper influence’ (did he have a gun?) to block efforts to consolidate state retirement funds, held up taxpayer money to fix the Tribune Company’s privately-owned Wrigley Field, and ‘discussed the possibility’ of having Fitzgerald replaced tip off the flop-sweat desperation of a prosecutor trying to pad his case. Privately ‘discussing the possibility’ of removing a prosecutor, blocking the consolidation of state funds desired by a corporation, withholding taxpayer money for a private sports enterprise, and arranging job interviews for your wife are now illegal? Fitzgerald is going to be mighty busy from now on, prosecuting every single politician in Illinois.
Also named in the charges is a ‘Candidate A’ that some of the TV Talking Heads are claiming is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. The allegation is that Candidate A was offered Obama’s vacated US Senate seat in return for a contribution to Blago’s campaign of $1.5 million. All well and good, except Jackson has already categorically denied that he discussed any kind of deal with Blago or his staff.
According to Jim Warren, formerly of the Chicago Tribune, speaking on Chris Matthews’ Hardball last night, there is little in these 16 counts that was not brought out in Fitzgerald’s press conference last December. If so, Fitzy is armed with 16 counts of wet noodle here he supposedly has wiretaps that have Blago discussing bribes, but no actual bribes taking place. He might be able to make a thin-beef conspiracy charge stick but, then again, does he really want Blago and his staff taking the stand to expose the way the sausage is made in Springfield by both the Dems and GOP?
Regular Tattlesnake readers know that I have a friend who has 20 years experience with non-profit organizations trying to bring health care to everyone in Illinois. She reports that Blago was the only governor, and one of the few statehouse politicians, who ever took the issue seriously, and even appointed a liaison to the non-profit health care groups, with the aim of instituting single-payer universal health care for every Illinois resident. For this, and other progressive ideas, such as supporting unions and cracking down on the mortgage-lending industry, Blago was loathed by the corporate Powers-That-Be who have been trying to get rid of him since he took office. On the Republican side, the attacks have been spearheaded by the Chicago Tribune, and on the Dem side by Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan, a corrupt leftover from the old Daddy Daley Chicago Machine who wants his daughter Lisa, currently the Illinois AG, to be governor someday.
Nationally, we see the vituperative ‘of course he’s guilty’ smears coming from the same Big Media savants who previously pimped for the Iraq invasion and turned a blind eye to the Bush Regime’s involvement in torture. Sadly, some of our friends who should know better, such as Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, have also adopted the ‘throw away the key’ mentality where Blago’s concerned, but we all make mistakes, and they don’t live in Illinois.
The more I know of Patrick Fitzgerald, the more convinced I am that, contrary to the Big Media portrayal of him as an ‘Eliot Ness’ independent prosecutor of unquestioned integrity, he’s really been in the tank for the GOP all along. Look at the Valerie Plame investigation he let Karl Rove off the hook after changing his story five times, and then allowed Scooter Libby to fall on his sword, knowing he’d never do any hard time, giving both Rove and Cheney a free pass. Fitzy just threw up his hands and claimed Libby had confused him so much that he couldn’t find out who really leaked Plame’s name. Save it for the suckers, Pat you could have subpoened Cheney, Addington and everyone else close to Libby, and charged Rove with obstruction of justice and perjury, but you didn’t.
Unless Holder reopens it, the door is now closed on the Plame case and whoever authorized leaking the covert identity of a CIA agent for political reasons, what used to be known as treason, has escaped punishment. Fitzgerald made it seem as if he did his job while allowing the true criminals to go free an abysmal prosecutorial perfomance. (For contrast, imagine a federal prosecutor refusing to nail Al Capone because his driver had obstructed justice, and letting Frank Nitti change his story five times without being charged.)
In Blago’s case, Fitzy was serving his masters in the corporate wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties in Illinois those who are against statewide universal health care and support the interests of the corporations over the citizenry.
One thing’s for sure: Fitzgerald is going to have a hard time in court proving that Blago intended to do all of the things he allegedly talked about in private phone conversations, which pretty much cuts the legs off of most of his charges. Blago’s attorney can claim it was all just talk and, sans an actual extortion attempt or bribery taking place, it remains just that. There’s also the sticky problem of Blago and his staff taking the stand won’t be good for Fitzy’s overlords because El Rod & company have nothing to lose at this point by telling the bald-faced truth.
A key to how strong Fitzgerald’s case is will be how many times he asks for continuances if he stretches it out, as I suspect he will, it means he has nothing and is playing for time, hoping something more substantial comes to light.
Prosecutors like Patrick Fitzgerald need an independent prosecutor to investigate their conduct one who is not in the back pocket of the corrupt corporate interests that drove Rod Blagojevich from office.
2009 R.S. Janes. LT Saloon.org.