If Blagojevich Was Selling a Senate Seat, Who Was Buying?

Federal prosecutors say that before Gov. Rod Blagojevich named a U.S. senator to President-Elect Barack Obama's now-vacant seat, he wanted to get something ...
by | December 9, 2008

Federal prosecutors say that before Gov. Rod Blagojevich named a U.S. senator to President-Elect Barack Obama's now-vacant seat, he wanted to get something in return. I just asked whether we'd find out which candidate or candidates were on the other end of this alleged quid pro quo. It seems likely the answer is yes.

Rich Miller points to a couple of important passages from the U.S. Attorney's Office press release on the arrest:

Just last week, on December 4, Blagojevich allegedly told an advisor that he might "get some (money) up front, maybe" from Senate Candidate 5, if he named Senate Candidate 5 to the Senate seat, to insure that Senate Candidate 5 kept a promise about raising money for Blagojevich if he ran for re-election. In a recorded conversation on October 31, Blagojevich claimed he was approached by an associate of Senate Candidate 5 as follows: "We were approached 'pay to play.' That, you know, he'd raise 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator."

...

As recently as December 4, in separate conversations with Advisor B and Fundraiser A, Blagojevich said that he was "elevating" Senate Candidate 5 on the list of candidates because, among other reasons, if Blagojevich ran for re-election, Senate Candidate 5 would "raise[] money" for him. Blagojevich said that he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Blagojevich with something "tangible up front." Noting that he was going to meet with Senate Candidate 5 in the next few days, Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to reach out to an intermediary (Individual D), from whom Blagojevich is attempting to obtain campaign contributions and who Blagojevich believes is close to Senate Candidate 5. Blagojevich told Fundraiser A to tell Individual D that Senate Candidate 5 was a very realistic candidate but Blagojevich was getting a lot of pressure not to appoint Senate Candidate 5, according to the affidavit.

It seems very unlikely that Senate Candidate 5's identity will stay a secret for long. That said, I should echo a point that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald just made during his press conference: Blagojevich and John Harris (his chief of staff) are the only ones being charged with crimes. Plus, with so many intermediaries involved, it's not even necessarily clear that the Candidate 5 knew what was happening.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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