Dec 10 2008

Chicago Dominos Beginning To Fall – Where Might They Fall Next?

The Chicago-Way Corruption Scandal (now a new category here at the Strata-Sphere) is actually a legal domino effect that is just beginning to fall. First we had Rezko, then Blagojevich, and now the Deputy Governor of Illinois has resigned:

Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee submitted his resignation Wednesday, Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said. He did not say why he was resigning, Guerrero said.

Greenlee had served as deputy governor since Sheila Nix left the role earlier this year. Before then, he was a deputy chief of staff to Blagojevich and a top aide in the governor’s budget office.

I was wondering why there was a “Deputy Governor A” listed in the federal charges, now I know. Knowing Fitzgerald, I would guess part of Greenlee’s bargain for testimony is to step down. He is probably already singing to the Feds. Recall that Harris, the other person who is regularly coordinating with Blag was arrested. There has to be a reason Greenlee (who seemed to deeper into the extortion) is not in custody.

Also today another domino fell in the matter of “Senate Candidate 5“:

Federal authorities on Wednesday identified Democratic Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois as the potential United States Senatecandidate who was portrayed in court papers made public Tuesday as being the most deeply enmeshed in the alleged scheme by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to benefit from his appointment of a new senator to the seat vacated by President-electBarack Obama.

Of the six candidates for the senate seat who are identified by number in the complaint, but not named, only Candidate 5 is said to have engaged in possible wrongdoing by engaging in discussions through an emissary about a possible quid pro quo with Mr. Blagovich’s camp. The emissary was also not identified by name.

The quid pro quo included $500,000 in up front campaign contributions with another $1 million to come later. 

What is interesting is to see how the dominos are really starting to fall as each person in the chain starts to run for cover and the plea deals. Where will they go next? I think I see some hints to where this will lead.

I want to focus in on a intriguing section of the criminal complaint document which covers the effort by Blag to sell Obama’s now vacant US Senate Seat. What is intriguing about this section is how it takes snippets of a 2 hour strategy meeting to support the criminal charges but is all one sided. There is no discussion about the other end of the conversational give and take.

Starting at Paragraph 101 we see where the future dominos are who will be falling very soon – and they all seem to be on the side of the discussions which would reflect the Obama camp’s views and positions on the corrupt matters at hand. All we have is the Blagojevich side of the discussions. So let me identify and attempt to fill in the blanks as they show up. But first allow Fitzgerald to set the stage:

On November 10, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, his wife, JOHN HARRIS, Governor General Counsel, and various Washington-D.C. based advisors, including Advisor B, discussed the open Senate seat during a conference call. (The Washington D.C.-based advisors to ROD BLAGOJEVICH are believed to have participated on this call from Washington D.C.). Various individuals participated at different times during the call. The call lasted for approximately two hours, and what follows are simply summaries of various portions of the two-hour call.

So we have a two hour conference call with lots of ‘advisors’ on the line. Note, there is no indication the snippets that follow are necessarily in time order, but it is clear they are not sequential – there are gaps. Throughout this section we see Blag reacting to comments from the others on the call. The first ‘hole’ in the sequence is where Blag responds to a comment about the President-Elect’s feelings about certain options be proposed:

[statement 1] ROD BLAGOJEVICH mentioned the Senate seat, the dynamics of a new Presidential administration with the strong contacts that ROD BLAGOJEVICH has in it, and asked what if anything he can do to make that work for him and his wife and his responsibilities as Governor of Illinois.

[Gap 1]… 

[statement 2] ROD BLAGOJEVICH suggested during the call that he could name himself to the open Senate seat to avoid impeachment by the State of Illinois legislature.

[Gap2]… 

[statement 3] ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding ROD BLAGOJEVICH. 

If we look at the progression of the one side of the discussion we see the opening salvo from Blag in [statement 1]. He is laying out his position for the pending negotiations. In [Gap 1] it seems there is some push back on Blag’s view that he has special connections. We can conclude this because Blag counters with the threat he would appoint himself in [statement 2].

Was this push back speculation from the DC advisors or a message from camp Obama? Recall that these DC advisors could be considered to be outside the “Govenor’s” team if they are associated with the DNC or Obama or some other organization. Fitzgerald knows who these folks are and who they represent, we do not.

After [statement 2] we hit [Gap 2] which could be a counterpoint to [statement 2]. If we look at statement [3] we see one subject was brought up in Gap 2, the counter argument that Secretary positions in Obama’s cabinet were out of the question. Read [statement 3] as a response from the Obama administration position:

ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed it was unlikely that the President-elect would name him Secretary of Health and Human Services or give him an ambassadorship because of all of the negative publicity surrounding ROD BLAGOJEVICH.

Blag is agreeing that the other side – whoever that is – has a valid point about high visibility appointments. Again, is this the position of team Obama or speculation by Blag advisors? It is not clear yet.

Here is the next snippet where it does become a little more clear the comments cannot be speculation from team Blogojevich, but must be positions/comments from team Obama:

[statement 4] ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked what he can get from the President-elect for the Senate seat. 

…[Gap 3]…

[statement 5] ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that Governor General Counsel believes the President-elect can get ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife on paid corporate boards in exchange for naming the President-elect’s pick to the Senate.

So now that cabinet positions are off the table Bag asks what can he get in [statement 4], Gap 3 seems to be something along the lines of ‘what are your proposals Governor?’ Blag responds that Obama could get his wife on boards. 

Now think about this. If these were Blag’s advisors why would he be proposing to his own team? Through out all the rest of the criminal complaint he is giving his aids orders. He is not negotiating with them. This is the first sign (of many) that Blago is talking to advisors who represent Obama. He has made an initial proposal about cabinet positions, and is told this is not going to happen.  He agrees that is problematic. He then asks what is within the realm of possibilities, and the response (as in any good negotiation) is for him to offer more proposals. He suggests positions for his wife. This is definitely a negotiation with people in DC – not a strategy meeting.

Now things get interesting (skipping ahead a bit beyond the negotiation on his wife’s quid pro quo):

…[Gap 4]…

[statement 6] 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.”

This tirade seems to be in response to something Blag doesn’t want to here. Something clearly stated by the DC advisors. In this part of the conversation Blag indicates clearly what was said to piss him off:

“the consultants … are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing …”

Sorry, but this is not Blag’s advisors telling him to lay low for 2 years so he can get an appointment after the dust has settled. This is clearly a counter proposal from Team Obama. They don’t want to deal with Blag’s baggage right now. And Blag erupts at the source of the message – Obama. There is no way these are Blag’s people. He would just tell them to stuff that idea and get him a better deal. 

I will get to one more snippet, but even at this point it is clear Fitzgerald has wiretaps of what must be negotiations between Blag’s people and Obama’s people (whether they are in the DNC or DC consultants or whatever organization that pays their salaries). Recall this is November 10th for all those keeping score on timelines and denials (like Axelrod’s denial about Obama talking to Blagojevich).

Blag is in tough negotiations, and the only people he could negotiate with like this are Obama’s. I would suspect there are phone records that will show these DC consultants in contact with people closer to Obama as they negotiating goes back and forth and ideas need to be cleared with Command Central.

So let’s resume the negotiations for more evidence the DC advisors were representing Obama’s positions and pushing back on Blag. As the debate wages Blag starts to give some bottom lines. Instead of throwing out ideas to have them knocked down he states what he wants at the end of all this:

[statement 7] 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.

Why would he give up these personal financial details to underlings? He wouldn’t. He would, however toss it out to team Obama as to the root of what is driving him.

After this point Blag goes back to threatening to do something else with the vacant seat. This is where he threatens to give the seat to Jesse Jackson Jr instead of Obama’s preferred choice. I am not going to repeat all that discussion.

Then comes a final proposal from team Blagojevich that requires Obama’s involvement to seal the deal, so it makes sense this is being proposed to team Obama. Note that this one seems to work for all parties, but is refined during the discussions.  Mind the gaps on this one!

[statement 8] 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.

…[Gap 5]…

[statement 9] One of ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s advisors said he likes the idea, it sounds like a good idea, but advised ROD BLAGOJEVICH to be leery of promises for something two years from now.

…[Gap 6]…

[statement 10] ROD BLAGOJEVICH’s wife said they would take the job now.

…[Gap 7]…

[statement 11] Thereafter, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and others on the phone call discussed various ways ROD BLAGOJEVICH can “monetize” the relationships he is making as Governor to make money after ROD BLAGOJEVICH is no longer Governor.

So Harris proposed a stealthy 3-way quid pro quo which would insulate team Obama from Blagojevich [statement 8] - and there is a gap. After [Gap 5], a Blag aid says basically ‘yes, but…’. It seems the two year period to lay low was offered as an aspect of this last proposal during {Gap 5]. This two year feature is only good for team Obama and counter to Blagojevich’s wishes, therefore it is not coming from Blag’s side of the table.

In fact, at this time in the sequence, it is not even clear if Blag is still participating, but his wife is. Anyway, the Blag team counters that waiting two years to execute the plan will not work [statement 9].  I am not even sure there is a [Gap 6], but Blag’s wife clearly indicates the plan needs to be executed now – they will take the job(s) now. [Gap 7] appears to be the successful culmination of a negotiated plan forward, and after that more details are worked out until the conference call ends.

So, now we know where some juicy dominos are sitting. Everyone in this conference call is on the top of the list of witnesses or accomplices. And I am pretty damn certain there were two sides to this discussion, and those DC advisors were representing Obama in some capacity. Find out who these people were and we know where the dominos will fall next.

13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Chicago Dominos Beginning To Fall – Where Might They Fall Next?”

  1. crosspatch says:

    Obama is a Chicago politician. You do not get to where he is in Chicago without being crooked. It just doesn’t happen. Everyone wants something and if they can’t get it from you, they will make sure someone who can get it for them gets the office.

    Obama didn’t get to be Senator on looks. He owes people.

  2. kathie says:

    I think that Obama and his wife have been mostly on the receiving end of gifts. The wife got a big job when Obama was elected to the State Senate. Obama got to the Senate. Blag’s wife found the house for the Obamas and negotiated with Rezko for the property next door. Obama pushed some stuff to all of them as Senator. So he is new to the quid pro quo stuff and can deny most of it easily.
    There are so many people to throw under the bus, it is mind boggling. But I think he can get away with it for now by saying “I just didn’t know”. But people won’t forget and he will do something stupid and get caught. Maybe they work on the 2 year model, I have heard the 2 year thing before.

  3. Frogg says:

    Blagojevich’s Big Conference Call and Valerie Jarrett’s Clean Break
    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/12/10/blagojevichs-big-conference-call-and-valerie-jarretts-clean-break/?mod=blog

    Obama Discussed Seat With Blago Nov 5
    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/obama-discussed-seat-with-blago-nov-5

    Blagojevich Believed That The SEIU Official Was An Emissary From Obama To Discuss Jarrett For The Senate Seat. “The complaint also states that on Nov. 12, Blagojevich spoke by phone with an “SEIU official” who was in Washington and with whom Blagojevich had met a week before on the understanding that the official was an emissary to discuss Jarrett’s interest in the Senate seat.” (Alec MacGillis, “Union Official Allegedly Liaison Between Governor, Obama Team,” The Washington Post, 12/10/08)
    http://sweetness-light.com/archive/seiu-was-obamas-go-between-with-blago

  4. Frogg says:

    It is hard to say where this investigation will go once people start singing. However, Fitz did say that there is no evidence that Obama was involved with this corruption scandal. I, for one, hope he wasn’t. That is about the last thing this country needs to go through right now.

  5. MerlinOS2 says:

    Right now this is the tip of the iceberg.

    Fitz just put out enough cards to seal the deal on the charges at hand.

    The investigation is still on going.

    Mostly it put a lot of people on notice that they may wish to consider a visit to their local FBI office for a little chat.

  6. [...] Yesterday I posted on my analysis of a two hour conference call with people from Governor Blagojevich’s team and ‘advisors’ in DC. That analysis attempted to stitch together the possible other side of the conversations being held since the Fed’s criminal complaint only covers the Team Blag’s side of the event. [...]

  7. [...] As I noted before, and everyone now realizes, it is the November 10th marathon telecon between Team Blag and Team Obama that is the lynchpin to the entire scandal. Also of import is what transpired before and after (note that the criminal charges actually came out over four weeks after this conference call). There are lots of theories reasonable theories out there, some which look good for Obama and others which look bad. [...]

  8. [...] Strata makes a pretty good case that some taped conversations between Rod Blagojevich and unnamed “DC advisors” are [...]

  9. [...] Strata, Chicago Dominos Beginning To Fall – Where Might They Fall Next?, The Strata-Sphere, December 10, [...]

  10. [...] it may get worse. As I noted previously, when reviewing the infamous November 10, 2008 conference call, there were some counter offers [...]

  11. [...] the 78 page PDF complaint, you will find some interesting statements from Blagojevich, which Strata-Sphere points out, specifically statement #6, which says: [statement 6] ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the [...]

  12. [...] that Team Blagojevich was having a large strategy telecon with people from DC on 11/10, where all the various options were being discussed. At this meeting the idea of Blagojevich [...]