19-Count Indictment Against Blagojevich, 5 Others
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Back when he was being impeached Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich argued that no one had charged him with a crime yet. Now that little oversight has been corrected. A federal grand jury in Chicago has issued an indictment. Blagojevich is charged with 16 felonies and his brother and four other members of the former governor's inner circle also face charges. NPR's David Schaper reports from Chicago.
DAVID SCHAPER: Dave Lundy is with the Chicago-based non-profit the Better Government Association.
DAVE LUNDY: The indictment lays out a fairly complex scheme in which Governor Blagojevich and his associates, from very early on, recognized that it wasn't just the Senate seat that was bleeping golden, but the governorship itself. And they set out to try to sell it and to enrich themselves in numerous ways.
SCHAPER: In another instance, Blagojevich allegedly withheld a $2 million state grant for a charter school in the district of a Chicago congressman until the brother of the congressman would hold a fundraiser for him. The congressman, reportedly now White House Chief of State Rahm Emanuel and his brother, did not go along and the school eventually did receive some of the grant.
LUNDY: You know, Governor Blagojevich came to office crusading against the corruption of the Ryan years.
SCHAPER: The Better Government Association's Dave Lundy points out that Blagojevich's predecessor, former Republican Governor George Ryan, is now serving a six and a half year prison sentence for corruption.
LUNDY: And yet what he apparently did, according to this indictment, is so much broader and greater, and so much more naked than what Governor Ryan did.
CINDY CANARY: I find this indictment completely repulsive.
SCHAPER: Cindy Canary is executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.
CANARY: He was basically negotiating reforms during the day and planning the shakedowns at night.
SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
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