Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama and Blagojevich

My prediction about Blagojevich yesterday may come to pass even sooner than I expected. Everyone knew he was a crook, even before he was reelected governor in 2006 - he was already under investigation for his hiring practices (high paying jobs in exchange for big campaign contributions) and rumors of pay to play politics in state contracts were everywhere. At the time, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was already investigating what he called "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" with a "number of credible witnesses." Everyone who voted for him, endorsed him, or supported him should be ashamed of the disservice they did to the state of Illinois, and that includes President-elect Obama.

Obama endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006 and served as a top adviser to him in 2002. Many Democrats found this crook so unpalatable that they refused to work with him on his campaign for governor, including former Blagojevich adviser and now top Obama adviser David Axelrod, but not Obama. In August of 2006, Obama stumped for Blagojevich: "We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois."

As a State Senator and as a US Senator, Obama never shied away from aligning himself with some of the dirtiest politicians in all the land. He never once crossed anyone in the Chicago Machine. Even when he had the opportunity to support a liberal Democrat, Forrest Claypool, for Cook County Board President, a candidate that pledged to end the cronyism, corruption and extortion, he instead backed Todd Stroger, the son of the previous president. With Obama's support, Stroger won the primary by 7% of the vote. Stroger has wasted no time, he's increased the sales tax to 10.25%, laid off hundreds of nurses, and cut 43 prosecutors, all so he can hire more friends and family to high paying, do-nothing jobs.

One of the most serious charges facing Blagojevich is that he attempted to auction off Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. There is evidence that Blagojevich attempted negotiations with Obama and a labor union, offering the seat to an Obama adviser in exchange for a high paying job at the labor union, whom would receive political favors from Obama once he's president. To his credit, Obama turned him down, but not to his credit, it doesn't appear that he or his camp reported this to authorities.

Today, when asked if he had any contact with Blagojevich about the Senate seat, Obama said "I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening." However, a few weeks ago, Axelrod discussed the candidates to replace Obama in the Senate on Fox News Chicago saying, "I know [Obama has] talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them." Hmmm.

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