There is no denying what prior cases have established in spades: During Blagojevich's governorship, pay-to-play schemers committed serious crimes that created unfair advantages and cheated honest people. That already proven misconduct is why Rezko and other former insiders now have "convicted felon" permanently attached to their names. These federal public corruption trials aren't sanitized legal niceties; they're bloody slugfests in which citizens have to face how tolerant they've been of dishonesty in Illinois government.Tribune editorial.
The most prominent witnesses will be DC Democrats, the Chicago Way Goes to Washington--not the disgraced Tombstone Burris whom Blago appointed to Obama's seat, but the other U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat leader, who enabled it. From the White House, arguably the president's closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, Slumlord, whose dealings with Rezko were numerous--as were the president's, and Rahm Emanuel, who inherited Blago's seat with help from a Mayor Daley patronage army that landed the immediate head of it in jail. Emanuel is the current White House chief of staff, had taped conversations with Blago on the Obama Senate seat, and is embroiled in a strikingly familiar scandal on manipulating Senate seats with alternative job offers. Then there's Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who had up until this a pretty clean image despite his dad's shakedown activities, and the recent revelations of his wife being on the payroll. He wanted that Senate seat along with Jarrett. Did he pay to play? And Blago wanted a lucrative job for himself and his wife. Enter SEIU, the President's favorite union and most frequent visitor to the White House, its president Andy Stern. There is mention of a call by the president to most probably Tom Balanoff, head of SEIU Illinois, signaling an approach to Blago to give Jarrett the job. And SEIU is on tape with Blago.
And then there's the chairman of the Democrat party in Illinois, House Speaker Mike Madigan, whose daughter Lisa was and is attorney general while all this shenanigans was going on. Lisa was also in the mix for the Senate seat.
Finally there's our President Barack Obama himself, along with Rahmbo, a big supporter of Blago from way back. The judge hasn't allowed him to be subpoenaed, nor is he likely to be, but he apparently did talk to Blago at a governor's conference in Philadelphia during the bleepin Senate seat horsetrading, and there is tape not of that directly, but of conversations between Blago aides on the subject, as outlined in Blago's hoped-for subpoena. Obama himself contributed to the haze of distrust by the public surrounding the affair by the whitewash report he orchestrated with his incoming (and now gone) White House legal counsel Greg Craig.
It'll be a bloody slugfest all right. Will the president keep parsing his words?
More. John Kass: Jury selection, The Chicago Way Sun Times: Blago and Patti heading to court today. Blagoblog updates here.
More. CBS2 recaps the charges and covers some of the more colorful Blago episodes since. Tribune blog updates.
P.S. Given this sick culture is it any wonder people who can are fleeing (Obama's home) state?
And Joel Pollak, GOP candidate for the Illinois 9th congressional district: The Blagojevich Trial: Honest Graft and Dishonest Graft A nervous Jan Schakowsky.
Related: Blago Finally Subpoenas Rahmbo, Obama's 'Chicago Way' plunders the private sector