Ill. Gov. Accused of Trying to Sell Obama’s U.S. Senate Seat

December 9, 2008 - 11:05 AM
Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, allegedly took money from at least one individual in connection with naming a someone to the U.S. Senate seat that was just vacated by Barack Obama.

Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday in Chicago on federal corruption charges stemming from the naming of Barack Obama's successor in the U.S. Senate. (AP File Photo/Seth Perlman)

Chicago (AP) - Federal authorities in Chicago have arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, on charges of attempting to benefit financially from his position to appoint Barack Obama's Senate replacement.
 
U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Randall Samborn says both Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday.
 
Authorities say they've also accused Blagojevich of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Co. in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of editorial board members who have been critical of the governor.
 
A federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that the allegations include that the governor took money from at least one individual in connection with naming a successor for the U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by Obama. The official declined to be named publicly because the investigation was still under way.
 
Blagojevich is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
 
Federal agents are in Blagojevich's office in the Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.
 
The governor repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing.

Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years.
 
--George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.
 
--Dan Walker, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.
 
--Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.
 
In addition, William Stratton, governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but was acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.