Illinois Gov. Accused of Selling Obama's Senate Seat
First it was Eliot Spitzer; now, another Democratic governor finds himself in hot water this morning. The FBI arrested Illinois's head of state Rod Blagojevich (along with his chief of staff) on charges of federal corruption around 6:15 am CST. Among the specifics: The governor was looking to barter or auction off the Illinois senate seat recently vacated by President-elect Barack Obama for money and favors for he and the state's first lady.The Chicago Tribune caught Blagojevich's spokeswoman unprepared this morning when it broke the news a couple hours later. According to the Trib: On the issue of the U.S. Senate selection, federal prosecutors alleged Blagojevich sought appointment as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.Blagojevich is wicked unpopular in his home state, where in 2006 he became the first Democrat elected governor in more than a quarter century; Chicago Magazine chronicled his journey from golden boy to stunningly low approval ratings (16 percent) in February.Despite Blagojevich's repeated promises to "change business as usual" in Springfield-meaning, rid state government of pay-to-play politics-he has shown an inability or unwillingness to do so. On top of that, his own administration has been marred by alleged illegal hiring and political kickback scandals.
- His guns-blazing, iron-fisted style with state legislators has resulted in all-out war and, consequently, political gridlock. Blagojevich doesn't want to make deals; he wants a dogfight.
- He picked bad enemies and possibly even worse friends.
- He has never shifted his mindset from campaign mode to the reality of governing-favoring grandstanding photo ops and public-relations blitzes to the serious policy duties of the office.
- He has failed to right the state's fiscal ship, in large part because of his dogmatic refusal to raise income or sales taxes.
- The credibility factor: Lawmakers and voters don't trust Blagojevich-he has broken or reneged on too many promises.
- The buck doesn't stop with Rod. He never accepts blame for his-or his dministration's-mistakes.
- How rude! Even some of the governor's friends gripe about his chronic tardiness, his absenteeism in Springfield, and his enduring aversion to returning phone calls.