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Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s “Pay to Play” Scandal

by kace

  • Posted on December 11, 2008

  • News Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois returned to work on Wednesday amid whirlwind efforts across the state and country to remove him from office before he could make an appointment to the vacant United States Senate seat that is the root of a debilitating criminal case against him.

The criminal complaint against Mr. Blagojevich included a mention of a possible appointee to Mr. Obama’s seat identified only as Candidate 4 and a deputy governor. There were, until Mr. Greenlee’s resignation, three deputy governors under Mr. Blagojevich. Efforts to reach Mr. Greenlee were unsuccessful, but in a brief telephone conversation with The Associated Press, he said he had “been instructed” not to speak.

According to the complaint, in the weeks of recorded phone calls at his home and campaign office, Mr. Blagojevich considered various ways that he might financially gain from the possible Senate appointments. He talked about how one potential choice might help him secure a post with the Obama administration as a cabinet secretary, and he also talked about possible deals that might win him a union leadership post or a high-paying job with a nonprofit organization.

The complaint said Mr. Blagojevich told Mr. Wyma in early October that he wanted the chief executive of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago to raise $50,000 after it had been awarded $8 million in state money. At one point, Mr. Blagojevich threatened to withdraw the state money because the hospital executive had failed to make an earlier contribution the governor had expected, the complaint said.

The complaint also said the governor was trying to obtain contributions from a lengthy list of people and companies, a list that the complaint said was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The document also provided a compendium of instances in which Mr. Wyma, the Blagojevich associate cooperating with the authorities, said Mr. Blagojevich had exhorted Mr. Wyma and others to quickly bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

Even as officials here were digesting how the accusations against Mr. Blagojevich had tainted current state business mentioned in the complaint — including financing for the children’s hospital, a road contract and horse racing legislation — some were beginning to worry that other problems associated with Mr. Blagojevich’s doings might now be uncovered. In the worst-case scenario, some state officials said, companies that were passed over for big contracts might find grounds to sue the state, asserting that the awarding of contracts was unfair or corrupt.

“This really calls into question not just the issues he’s working on, but also the issues he has worked on — really everything,” Ms. Madigan said.