Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Jesse Jackson Jr.: I Am Not A “Target” Of Blagojevich Investigation

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 10, 2008

 

Huffington Post

s-jjjj-largeRep. Jesse Jackson Jr. hosted a highly dramatic press conference Wednesday in which he leveled harsh criticisms at Rod Blagojevich and denied any involvement in the governor’s “pay-to-play” scheme to fill Barack Obama’s open Senate seat.

“I reject and denounce pay to play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing,” said the congressman. “I did not initiate or authorize anyone, at any time, to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, or plea my case, or to propose a deal about a US Senate seat. Period.”

The remarks came hours after news reports fingered Jackson Jr. as Candidate #5 in the Justice Department’s complaint on the Blagojevich affair. Said candidate stands accused of seeking to send $500,000 or $1 million to the governor in an effort to win appointment to that seat. Jackson, who said he had met the governor for the first time in four years this past Monday, denied that he was “a target of this investigation.” I am not, he added, “accused of any misconduct.”

The language was at times emphatic, with Jackson Jr. getting emotional when talking about a text message he had received from his younger sister, telling him to continue his good work. But looking with a legal eye at the words, there is some noticeable wiggle room. Not being a “target” of an investigation is different than not being a “subject in” an investigation.

Also of note: Jackson Jr. did not do anything to tamp down his public hopes of being appointed Senator. At one point he touted his resume for the post, saying he was one of the most senior officials rumored to take Obama’s seat and had only missed two votes in 13 years in Congress. There is, he added, “no Democrat or Republican who can say that.”

The majority of the press conference (there was no question or answer session) focused on disappointment with Blagojevich — who the entire Democratic Party is running from in sprint-mode speed.

“I thought, mistakenly, that the process was fair, above board and on the merits. I thought, mistakenly, that the governor was evaluating me and other Senate hopefuls based upon on our credentials and qualifications,” Jackson Jr. said. “I thought, mistakenly, that I had a chance and I was being considered because I had earned it. Clearly I was badly mistaken. I did not know the process had been corrupted. I did not know that credentials, qualifications, or a record of service meant nothing to the governor. I did not know that the governor and his cronies were attempting to use the process to extort money in a brazen pay-to-play scheme.”

Sources Say Jesse Jackson Jr. Is “Senate Candidate No. 5”

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 10, 2008

jesse-jackson-jrABC News

 

ABC News’ Brian Ross is reporting that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is “Senate Candidate #5” in the Blagojevich indictment:

Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) is the anonymous “Senate Candidate #5” whose emissaries Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich reportedly claimed offered up to a million dollars to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News. […]Jackson Jr. said this morning he was contacted yesterday by federal prosecutors in Chicago who he said “asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process.”

Jackson Jr. said “I don’t know” when asked if he was Candidate #5, but said he was told “I am not a target of this investigation.”

Jackson Jr. said he agreed to talk with federal investigators “as quickly as possible” after he consults with a lawyer.

The Congressman, a son of the famed civil rights leader, denied that anyone had been authorized to make payments or promises to the Governor on his behalf.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested

Posted in politics by allisonkilkenny on December 9, 2008

Chicago Tribune

Tribune photo by Nancy Stone / December 8, 2008

Tribune photo by Nancy Stone / December 8, 2008

Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.

Updated at 9:17 a.m.: Blagojevich also was alleged to be using a favors list, made up largely of individuals and firms that have state contracts or received taxpayer benefits, from which to conduct a $2.5 million fundraising drive before year’s end.

Even Blagojevich’s recently announced $1.8 billion plan for new interchanges and “green lanes” on the Illinois Tollway was subject to corruption, prosecutors alleged.

The complaint repeatedly references conversations secretly recorded by federal authorities.

The criminal complaint alleges Blagojevich expected an unnamed highway concrete contractor to raise a half-million dollars for his campaign fund in exchange for state money for the tollway project. “If they don’t perform, (expletive) ’em,” Blagojevich said, according to the complaint.

Updated at 9:08 a.m.: Blagojevich and Harris were arrested simultaneously at their homes at about 6:15 a.m., according to the FBI. They were transported to FBI headquarters in Chicago, where they remained at 9 a.m.

Updated at 9 a.m.: Blagojevich is slated to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan today at a time that has not yet been scheduled, according to Randall Samborn of the U.S. attorney’s office.

Updated at 8:57 a.m.: 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 and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of Blagojevich in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.

Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts.

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement. “They allege that Blagojevich put a ‘for sale’ sign on the naming of a United States senator; involved himself personally in pay-to-play schemes with the urgency of a salesman meeting his annual sales target; and corruptly used his office in an effort to trample editorial voices of criticism.”

Updated at 8:48 a.m.: Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich and Harris were accused of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy that included Blagojevich conspiring to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for financial benefits for the governor and his wife. The governor was also accused of obtaining campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.

Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning.

A Blagojevich spokesman said he was unaware of the development. “Haven’t heard anything — you are first to call,” Lucio Guerrero said in an e-mail.

The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor’s North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.

Blagojevich was taken into custody hours after the Tribune reported that the investigation into allegations of pay-to-play politics within his administration had been expanded to include his pending choice of a Senate replacement for Obama. The Democratic governor has said he expects to make a decision on the state’s next senator in weeks.

Sources told the Tribune that investigators intensified their investigation into Blagojevich amid concerns that the process of choosing a new senator could be tainted. The actions by federal authorities came a day before Blagojevich’s 52nd birthday.

The Tribune previously disclosed that federal investigators had recordings of Blagojevich. Those recordings were aided by the cooperation of longtime Blagojevich confidant and former congressional chief of staff John Wyma.

On Monday, Blagojevich said he has done nothing wrong in his stewardship of the state and challenged critics to record him because his discussions were “always lawful.”

Illinois Governor Suspends Business With Bank Of America

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 8, 2008

 Huffington Post

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced Monday that he is asking all Illinois government agencies to suspend business with Bank of America. Blagojevich contended that Bank Of America received a multi-billion dollar bailout from the government and should accordingly restore credit to the Republic Windows & Doors company in Chicago.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

Laid Off Workers Occupy Chicago Factory

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 8, 2008

Democracy Now

headlogo

A group of workers in Chicago have entered their fourth day of occupying a closed factory to protest the company’s decision to shut down the plant. The laid-off workers at Republic Windows and Doors have been conducting a sit-in at the Chicago plant since Friday. Workers say their former bosses gave them only three days’ notice of the closing. Many of the employees had worked at the factory for decades. Union organizers say the workers are still owed vacation and severance pay and were not given the sixty days of notice generally required by federal law when companies make layoffs. On Sunday, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson visited the factory workers.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: “These workers must be congratulated for having the courage, in the great tradition of Dr. King, in the tradition of Cesar Chavez and the tradition of Rosa Parks. Your sitting down in many ways allows America to stand up, workers all around the nation who are now facing massive layoffs. It’s your job. It’s your plant. Stay there and fight for them ’til justice comes, and justice will come.”

The company told workers last Tuesday that the plant was closing because Bank of America had canceled Republic’s line of credit. The laid-off workers have hoisted placards saying “Bank of America: You got bailed out. We got sold out.” On Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama voiced support for the workers.

President-elect Barack Obama: “Number one, I think that these workers, if they have earned these benefits and their pay, then these companies need to follow through on those commitments. And number two, I think it is important for us to make sure that, moving forward, any economic plan that we put in place helps businesses to meet payroll so that we’re not seeing these kinds of circumstances again.”

The factory occupation has attracted international attention.
Labor organizer Leah Fried said, “We’re doing something we haven’t done since the 1930s.”

Related News (DN!)

533,000 Jobs Lost in November; 2 Million in 2008

The factory occupation began on Friday, the same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 533,000 jobs were lost in November, the highest monthly total since 1974. A total of nearly two million jobs have been lost this year. At a congressional hearing on Friday, Keith Hall of the Bureau of Labor Statistics told Congressman Elijah Cummings that this was one of the worst job reports in the agency’s history.

Keith Hall: “If I were to characterize this jobs report, I would say this is a dismal jobs report. There’s very little in this report that’s positive. This is maybe one of the worst jobs reports that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has ever produced.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings: “Ever?”

Hall: “Yes.”

Cummings: “And how long has the Bureau been around?”

Hall: “124 years.”

Cummings: “124 years. And so, that means that we’re sliding down a slippery slope fast.”

The nation’s official unemployment rate has risen to 6.7 percent. The New York Times reports the unemployment rate does not include those too discouraged to look for work any longer or those working fewer hours than they would like. Add those people to the roster of the unemployed, and the rate hit a record 12.5 percent in November. Meanwhile, the proportion of homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments or in foreclosure rose to an all-time high in the third quarter.