Every political scandal generates salacious moments. Not every scandal has those moments caught on tape. Here’s a list of the top ten moments to listen for when the recordings of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his chief of staff John Harris and his wife and other advisers become public.
1. “It’s got to be good”: On Nov. 4, Blagojevich was already plotting to use Illinois’s soon-to-be-open Senate seat to his advantage – and talked about opening the bidding. He said he planned to ask, “How much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].”
Blagojevich wasn’t specific about what he wanted, but he did explain: “It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me…It’s got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].”
2. “F-ing golden”: The next day, Blagojevich said again that he would appoint himself to the Senate if he didn’t get what he wanted from the Obama team. “I’ve got this thing and it’s f***ing golden,” Blagojevich says. “I’m not giving it up for f***ing nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.”
3. The trade: On November 7, Blagojevich, his chief of staff and a Washington-based adviser held a conference call suggesting a direct trade with Obama: the Department of Health and Human Services in exchange for appointing Obama’s favored successor — believed to be adviser Valerie Jarrett.
“Rod Blagojevich indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then Rod Blagojevich would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat,” the complaint reads.
4. “Selfish grab”: The governor’s chief of staff, John Harris, advised him to avoid making “it look like some kind of selfish grab for a quid pro quo,” but Blagojevich was blunt about his motives: “I want to make money.”
Later in the call, he put a price tag on his ambitions, saying he wanted a job that paid between $250,000 and $300,000.
5. Blago’s bank-shot: During a Nov. 7 conference call, Harris also suggested a three-way deal with Obama and the labor coalition Change to Win.
From the FBI report: “Harris suggested that SEIU Official make Rod Blagojevich the head of Change to Win and, in exchange, the President-elect could help Change to Win with its legislative agenda on a national level.”
6. Flaming PEOTUS: On November 10, Blagojevich held a two-hour conference call with several advisers, including his wife, to figure out what options he could pursue if an administration appointment didn’t work out, as looked increasingly likely. Frustrated, Blagojevich told his advisers he didn’t want to give this “motherf***er [the President-elect] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him.”
A new option the plotters raised: getting Mrs. Blagojevich appointed to a number of corporate boards in order to rake in more cash for the Blagojevich family. According to the FBI, “Blagojevich stated that he is ‘struggling’ financially and does ‘not want to be Governor for the next two years.’”
7. Shaking down Buffett and Gates: A day later, on November 11, Blagojevich and one of his advisers discussed the possibility of Obama’s wealthy supporters cobbling together a 501(c)(4) organization for Blagojevich to run. The FBI reports the Illinois governor “raised the idea of the 501(c)(4) organization and asked whether ‘they’ (believed be the President-elect and his associates) can get Warren Buffett and others to put $10, $12, or $15 million into the organization.”
Later, Blagojevich added another target to his shakedown list, suggesting: “the President-elect can ask Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and others for money for the organization.”
8. “My political situation”: On November 12, after a conversation with an SEIU official in which he pushed his 501(c)(4) plan, Blagojevich spoke with Harris about his criteria for choosing the next Illinois senator: “our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation.” When Harris said Blagojevich’s legal situation was the most tenuous of the three, the governor replied “that his legal problems could be solved by naming himself to the Senate seat.”
9. White House hopes: Being governor of Illinois, possibly appointing himself to the Senate or taking on a posh private-sector gig wasn’t enough for Blagojevich, who expressed “a desire to remake his image in consideration of a possible run for President in 2016.”
10. “Hold up” Cubs cash: Angry at some of the Chicago Tribune’s editorials, Blagojevich threatened to hold up state support for the Tribune-owned Chicago Cubs unless the newspaper reorganized its editorial board. In response to an editorial calling for Blagojevich’s impeachment, the governor’s wife told her husband: “hold up that f***ing Cubs s***…f*** them.”
Blagojevich urged Harris to approach the Tribune and tell them to “Fire those f***ers.”