Parsing Blagojevich's Big Ideas For Himself An affidavit about Rod Blagojevich's recent comings-and-goings shows him scheming for high-profile jobs, including cabinet posts, ambassadorships and positions with labor unions — anything other than his current post as the governor of Illinois.
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Parsing Blagojevich's Big Ideas For Himself

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media after visiting with laid-ff workers occupying the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago on Monday. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media after visiting with laid-ff workers occupying the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago on Monday.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Ever have one of those days when you sit around with your buds and plan your brilliant career?

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich seems to have had a lot of those days over the past six weeks. The Dec. 7 affidavit by FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain alleges that the governor was intent on parlaying his power to fill President-elect Obama's Senate seat into a lucrative new job for himself.

Nobody on Blagojevich's staff logged all the plans. As the governor himself observed, such a list "can't be in writing."

Cain states that these ideas came under consideration in phone calls recorded by the FBI:

Secretary of health and human services — Blagojevich said he could "trade" with Obama, giving the Senate seat to Valerie Jarrett, a friend and adviser to the Obamas, in exchange for nomination as secretary of HHS. Blagojevich's chief of staff John Harris (arrested Tuesday along with Blagojevich) warned against making it "look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo." Blagojevich said, "I want to make money." The state of Illinois paid Blagojevich $155,600 last year. Federal Cabinet posts pay $191,300.

Secretary of energy — The logic here was that Illinois is a coal state. In Cain's account, one of Blagojevich's aides seemed to suggest that the energy secretary is better paid than the HHS secretary.

Ambassador — Cain didn't elaborate on which countries Blagojevich favored.

Private foundation — Harris suggested that Obama could arrange for a foundation to hire Blagojevich. The governor told Harris to do "homework" ASAP.

American Red Cross — As the discussion got more specific, Blagojevich wondered if the organization might have a high-paying place for him. Harris said the idea wouldn't work because the Red Cross isn't dependent on the administration.

Private foundation that's "heavily dependent on federal aid" — Continuing to work the idea, Blagojevich, Harris and another aide speculated that White House influence could be brought to bear. Blagojevich suggested Obama could remove a foundation head and install Blagojevich in a deal for the Senate appointment: Cain quotes Blagojevich as saying, "I've got this thing and it's [profanity deleted] golden and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for [profanity deleted] nothing."

Change to Win — Blagojevich wanted a job at the labor coalition, so long as it paid $250,000 to $300,000. One of the leading unions in Change to Win is the Service Employees International Union. Blagojevich, Harris and another aide talked about a three-way deal: Blagojevich allows Obama to pick his successor in the Senate, SEIU makes Blagojevich the national director of Change to Win, SEIU gets a favor to be named later from the Obama administration. The advantage: A "buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo" with the new president. The hitch: Change to Win didn't need a new national director.

501( c ) (4) political advocacy organization — Blagojevich started wondering if he could launch a new 501(c )(4) "so I can advocate health care and other issues I care about." He would become president of the organization when he left office. It would cost $10 million to $20 million, to come from "these Warren Buffett types" lined up by Obama in a deal for the Senate seat. The governor's aides said the funding scheme would leave too many "fingerprints" of an Obama connection. In a later version, Blagojevich thought an unidentified Illinois resident would put up the money to get into the Senate. Then Blagojevich floated the initial idea to an unnamed SEIU official, who would "put that flag up and see where it goes." (An SEIU spokeswoman Ramona Oliver said Tuesday, "We have no reason to believe that SEIU or any SEIU official was involved in any wrongdoing.") Still later, Blagojevich wanted to suggest the plan to an Obama adviser, but with an additional angle — using his gubernatorial power to name a successor to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, whom Obama picked as his White House chief of staff. The problem here: Governors can't appoint members of the House.

Senator — The job Blagojevich was allegedly eager to bargain away, but all along, he also considered appointing himself. Why? To dodge impeachment in Illinois; make contacts for corporate jobs later; help his wife, Patti, become a Washington lobbyist; boost his potential for speaking fees down the road; and raise more money to pay defense lawyers, in case of indictment. Also — yes — to remake his image and run for president in 2016.

Blagojevich and his aides also speculated that Obama could arrange paid positions on corporate boards for Patti. The governor said "the immediate challenge" is "how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family?"

The bottom line: Blagojevich said he did "not want to be governor for the next two years."

That part of the plan seems to be working out.

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