Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested

Bring a toothbrush.

The radio out here in Chicago is reporting that the troubled Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was arrested by federal authorities earlier this morning. (Click here for breaking news on the arrest). Since this news is breaking at a little after 8 a.m., I think it is safe to assume that the arrest happened at a time of day which suggests that the evidence against him is rock-solid and the man is well and truly screwed. If there were any question as to the man's guilt in the eyes of the feds, they would probably either not arrest a sitting governor or at least give him the decency of a decent breakfast first. Initial reports suggest that he was trying to parlay his choice of replacements for Obama's senate seat into a sweet personal gig. Ah, Chicago.

Blagojevich has been under investigation since 2005 for a system of "pay-to-play" politics in his administration. Last month, according to a Chicago Tribune story that broke on Friday, feds apparently got judicial permission to secretly record Blagojevich on concerns that the decision on who to fill Barack Obama's soon-to-be-vacant senate seat was being tainted by a corrupt process.

So, most likely, the leaked news report forced the feds to put together a raid since the secret recordings were no longer a secret and they felt they were going to get no more info from the wiretap. So why didn't they do it immediately on Friday? Almost certainly the answer is bureaucratic politics and process. First, someone in the justice department chain-of-command had to authorize requesting the warrant. All the way up the chain, I would imagine because the era of the solo crusading prosecutor is long dead. At each step the men on the scene had to answer a slew of questions about the case, the evidence and the governor's probable defense.

All-in-all, feds aren't perfect, but they are really good at what they do and don't take risks. They have a nearly 100% conviction rate and only pull the trigger as a matter of form when the subject is already fundamentally settled. If you are arrested by the feds, you are almost certainly done for. Rob Blagojevich is done for.

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