Blago Goes To Zell

We've all heard about the arrest of Illinois Rod "I'm Not A Crook II" Blagojevich, but did you hear the one about his wife?

Patricia Blagojevich is the one who seems to have instigated the (allegedly criminal) attempt by the guv to try to bribe Sam Zell into firing the Chicago Tribune's editorial staff in exchange for state help in the sale of the Cubs. During a call with a advisor the feds call "Deputy Governer A," Blagojevich complains about the Trib's call to impeach him. In the background, the Illinois first lady can be heard telling them "to hold up that fucking Cubs shit ... fuck them." Here's the rest of it the passage from the criminal complaint (forgive the large type -- it's a glitch I can't seem to fix):

ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife's idea. Deputy Governor A stated that there is a part of what ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife said that he "agree[s] with." Deputy Governor A told ROD BLAGOJEVICH that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, "but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune." Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can "just fire" the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune. ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife stated that if Tribune Owner's papers were hurting his business, Tribune Owner would do something about the editorial board. ROD BLAGOJEVICH then got back on the phone.

 

Now, I'm not suggesting she be arrested -- one federal indictment is enough for any family, but it's such great stuff I had to share directly. 

More importantly, the complaint shows that the attempt to shitcan the editorialists got all the way to Sam Zell. The Tribune owner is being heralded in some quarters for withstanding the extortion attempt -- and top Trib editors say they weren't pressured at all to give Blagojevich any breaks. But the text of the complaint indicates Zell at least played footsie with Blagojevich and his chief of staff (and current co-defendant) John Harris.

As luck would have it for Blago, the Trib was laying off employees at the time -- so the governor had his people start dropping the name of Tribune Deputy Editorial Editor John P. McCormick as someone who should get the ax. From the indictment:

During an intercepted call on November 21, 2008, Rod Blagojevich spoke with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS whether he told Deputy Governor A that "McCormick is going to get bounced at the Tribune." ... HARRIS said "no, I told him (Deputy Governor A) that McCormick is in a bad mood," and that HARRIS was going "to check with [Tribune Financial Advisor] to see" whether "it was part of that message about the cuts on the Ed board." HARRIS stated, "I had singled out McCormick as somebody who was the most biased and unfair." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "to [Tribune Financial Advisor] you did?" HARRIS confirmed that it was to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "that would be great," and McCormick is a "bad guy." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "[Tribune Financial Advisor] is on top of this, right?" HARRIS replied that Tribune Financial Advisor said they would be "downsizing that division or changing personnel" and that Tribune Financial Advisor understands and "[Tribune Owner]" understands. ROD BLAGOJEVICH confirmed that HARRIS made the point with Tribune Financial Advisor that the Tribune is advocating that ROD BLAGOJEVICH be impeached for going around the legislature and that "is precisely what we're doing on Wrigley Field." HARRIS said he explained that information to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether Tribune Financial Advisor understood that "we are not in a position where we can afford to do that if . . . the Tribune is pushing impeachment." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "they got that, right?" HARRIS replied, "right." ... After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured HARRIS that the Tribune would be downsizing or making personnel changes affecting the editorial board, ROD BLAGOJEVICH had a series of conversations with the representatives of the Chicago Cubs regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. 

You see? The "Tribune Financial Advisor" -- who hasn't yet been identified -- was at least pretending to go along with the governor's suggestion. And he told the governor's folks that Zell was on board as well. In fact, they were compliant enough that Blago began working on getting that financing for the Cubs.

So what's the deal? Was Zell stringing the governor along to get what they wanted. Or was he waiting for the governor to fulfill his end of the deal before acting? ...  

We don't know, but again, this is damn fine stuff. You can find the entire portion of the indictment pertaining to the Tribune after the jump.  

72. On the evening of November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked to Deputy Governor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he was concerned about possibly being impeached in the Spring and that the Chicago Tribune will be "driving" the impeachment

discussion. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A to check to see if the Tribune has recently "advocate[d]" that he be impeached. In fact, the Chicago Tribune recently had published editorials critical of ROD BLAGOJEVICH.20

 

73. In another call between ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A that occurred a short time later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Deputy Governor A discussed an editorial from the Chicago Tribune regarding the endorsement of Michael Madigan and calling for a committee to consider impeaching ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife can be heard in the background telling ROD BLAGOJEVICH to tell Deputy Governor A "to hold up that

fucking Cubs shit. . . fuck them." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A what he thinks of his wife's idea. Deputy Governor A stated that there is a part of what ROD

BLAGOJEVICH's wife said that he "agree[s] with." Deputy Governor A told ROD BLAGOJEVICH that Tribune Owner will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, "but I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune." Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife got on the phone and, during the continuing discussion of the critical Tribune editorials, stated that Tribune Owner can "just fire" the writers because Tribune Owner owns the Tribune. ROD BLAGOJEVICH's wife stated that if Tribune Owner's papers were hurting his business, Tribune Owner would do something about the editorial board. ROD BLAGOJEVICH then got back on the phone. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Deputy Governor A to put together the articles in the Tribune that are on the topic of removing ROD BLAGOJEVICH from office and they will then have someone, like JOHN HARRIS, go to Tribune Owner and say, "We've got some decisions to make now." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that "someone should say, 'get rid of those people.'" ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that he thinks that they should put this all together and then have HARRIS or somebody go talk to the Tribune owners and say, "Look, we've got decisions to make now. . . moving this stuff forward (believed to be a reference to the IFA helping with the Cubs sale) . . . someone's gotta go to [Tribune Owner], we want to see him . . it's a political fuckin' operation in there." Deputy Governor A agreed and said that ARRIS needs to be "sensitive" about how he does it. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said there is nothing sensitive about how you do it and that it's "straight forward" and you say "we're doing this stuff for you, we believe this is right for Illinois [and] this is a big deal to [Tribune Owner] financially" but what ROD BLAGOJEVICH is doing to help Tribune Owner is the same type of action that the Tribune is saying should be the basis for ROD BLAGOJEVICH's impeachment. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said Tribune Owner should be told "maybe we can't do this now. Fire those fuckers." Deputy Governor A suggested that ROD BLAGOJEVICH say, "I'm not sure that we can do this anymore because we've been getting a ton of these editorials that say, look, we're going around the legislature, we gotta stop and this is something the legislature hasn't approved. We don't want to go around the legislature anymore." ROD BLAGOJEVICH agreed and said that he wants HARRIS to go in and make that case, "not me." Deputy Governor A agreed and said that he likes it. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked Deputy Governor A to put the list of Tribune articles together.

 

74. During another intercepted call still later on the evening of November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A, a former Deputy Governor under ROD BLAGOJEVICH who is currently a lobbyist. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is going to go to Tribune Owner and tell Tribune Owner that ROD BLAGOJEVICH will not help Tribune Owner because Tribune Owner's own paper will argue to impeach ROD BLAGOJEVICH for his actions in helping Tribune Owner. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated they are going to go to Tribune Owner "before we pull the trigger on this deal" (believed to be a reference to helping Tribune Owner at the IFA).

 

75. During an intercepted call on November 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Deputy Governor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told Deputy Governor A to think about the "Tribune stuff" and that he is going to talk to HARRIS as well. Deputy Governor A confirmed that he has people doing the "research right now." ROD BLAGOJEVICH, in discussing taking the issue to Tribune Owner, stated, "then we'll say, look, we got a problem at IFA. Here it is."

 

76. During a subsequent intercepted call on November 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the Tribune editorials suggesting that ROD BLAGOJEVICH be impeached, and told HARRIS that they

need to have a conversation with "[Tribune Financial Advisor]"21 (as noted above, Tribune Financial Advisor is believed to be a top adviser to Tribune Owner who played a significant role in Tribune Owner's purchase of the Tribune), Cubs Chairman, and Tribune Owner and explain that the Tribune is writing editorials criticizing ROD BLAGOJEVICH for taking actions like those Tribune Owner wants ROD BLAGOJEVICH to take "on this Cubs deal at the IFA." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that because of the impeachment articles, "we don't know if we can take a chance and do this IFA deal now. I don't want to give them a grounds to impeach me." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that "our recommendation is fire all those fucking people, get 'em the fuck out of there and get us some editorial support."

 

77. During an intercepted call on November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked to JOHN HARRIS, Advisor A, and Spokesman, a State of Illinois employee who is the official spokesperson for the Governor's office. During part of the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH instructed HARRIS to call someone at the Tribune and "lay a foundation with them." HARRIS agreed to call Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to tell Tribune Financial Advisor "this is a serious thing now" and that the only "way around it" is around the legislature and that the Tribune is "trumping up impeachment discussions because I do this stuff to get things done." ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to tell Tribune Financial Advisor that "everything is lined up, but before we go to the next level we need to have a discussion about what you guys are going to do about that newspaper." HARRIS stated that he "won't be so direct." ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS "yeah, you know what you got to say."

 

78. During intercepted calls on November 6, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH mentioned a Chicago Tribune editorial published that day about "disservices" ROD BLAGOJEVICH had done to the State of Illinois and suggested that HARRIS call Tribune Financial Advisor about it. ROD Blagojevich and HARRIS then discussed a conversation HARRIS had with "[Tribune Financial Advisor]" the prior day. HARRIS said he told Tribune Financial Advisor that 

things "look like they could move ahead fine but, you know, there is a risk that all of this is going to get derailed by your own editorial page." HARRIS said that he told Tribune Financial Advisor that they need to have a discussion on how they might tone things down and change the focus of "that page." HARRIS said that Tribune Financial Advisor said that is a delicate issue, that Tribune Financial Advisor wanted to come in and talk to HARRIS about it, and that Tribune Financial Advisor will talk to Tribune Owner preliminarily about it. Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS talked about an upcoming meeting HARRIS will have with an individual at the Tribune (believed to be Tribune Financial Advisor). HARRIS stated that he will tell the individual that in HARRIS's experience you cannot "tread lightly" and you need "to make wholesale changes." HARRIS stated that he will "throw it out there and let them figure out how to do it." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that HARRIS's suggestion will be to "get rid of these people" and that "the other point you want to make is in fact, we, we sure would like to get some editorial support from your paper. Okay?" HARRIS stated, "I want to do that in person." HARRIS stated that they will not get editorial support "out of the current crew." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "this is a priority. Stay on it right. I mean, he, he gets the message, doesn't he?" HARRIS replied, "Oh yeah. He got it loud and clear." In apparent reference to the prospect of IFA assistance for the Wrigley Field deal, ROD BLAGOJEVICH then asked, "what does this mean to them? Like $500 million? What does it mean to [Tribune Owner] in real terms?" HARRIS replied, "To them? About $100 million . . .maybe 150." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that he thought "it was worth like $500 million to 'em." ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS then discussed the details of the deal the Cubs are trying to get through the IFA. HARRIS said that it is basically a tax mitigation scheme where the IFA will "own title to the building" (believed to be Wrigley Field), and the Tribune will not "have to pay capital gains tax." HARRIS explained that the total gain to the Tribune is in the neighborhood of $100 million. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "$100 million is nothing to sneeze at. That's still worth something, isn't it?" HARRIS said he planned on seeing "[Tribune Financial Advisor]" the following Monday (November 10, 2008).

 

79. During an intercepted call on November 11, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS about the Tribune issue.

HARRIS said that he met with Tribune Financial Advisor the prior day (November 10, 2008), and that Tribune Financial Advisor talked to Tribune Owner and Tribune Owner "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue." HARRIS stated that according to Tribune Financial Advisor, there will be "certain corporate reorganizations and budget cuts coming and, reading between the lines, he's going after that section." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "oh, that's fantastic." According to HARRIS, Tribune Financial Advisor did not acknowledge that "he interferes in that operation. . . but I got the clear feeling that, that he was, uh, very sensitive to our concerns." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS whether Tribune Financial Advisor understood the time line in which ROD BLAGOJEVICH wanted changes made in relation to "our ability to do this without the legislature" (believed to be a reference to using the IFA to help with the Cubs financing). HARRIS stated "correct . . . November, December." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "right." HARRIS said that he

expects "before the end of this month [November] there's gonna be some reorganization or cuts" (believed to be a reference to changes in the editorial department). ROD BLAGOJEVICH replied, "Wow. Okay, keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."

 

80. During an intercepted call on November 20, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH began the conversation by asking HARRIS whether HARRIS is "making any progress on that Tribune editorial board with [Tribune Financial Advisor]?" HARRIS said he had not heard back from Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH directed HARRIS to "be smart and stay on top of that" and advised HARRIS that Spokesman just informed ROD BLAGOJEVICH that the Tribune editorial board was not willing to listen to Deputy Governor A and basically hung up on Deputy Governor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to touch base with Spokesman and Deputy Governor A. ROD BLAGOJEVICH told HARRIS to "keep talking to [Tribune Financial Advisor] about this." ROD BLAGOJEVICH then suggested that HARRIS could say the following to Tribune Financial Advisor: "What are we going to do? We've got this IFA thing. We want to do all this. How's that going?" ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS if he understood what ROD BLAGOJEVICH wants, and told HARRIS to "use your judgment."

 

81. During an intercepted call on November 21, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS whether he told Deputy Governor A that "McCormick is going to get bounced at the Tribune." (McCormick is believed to be John P. McCormick, the Chicago Tribune's Deputy Editorial Page Editor).

HARRIS said "no, I told him (Deputy Governor A) that McCormick is in a bad mood," and that HARRIS was going "to check with [Tribune Financial Advisor] to see" whether "it was part of that message about the cuts on the Ed board." HARRIS stated, "I had singled out McCormick as somebody who was the most biased and unfair." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "to [Tribune Financial Advisor] you did?" HARRIS confirmed that it was to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "that would be great," and McCormick is a "bad guy." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "[Tribune Financial Advisor] is on top of this, right?" HARRIS replied that Tribune Financial Advisor said they would be "downsizing that division or changing personnel" and that Tribune Financial Advisor understands and "[Tribune Owner]" understands. ROD BLAGOJEVICH confirmed that HARRIS made the point with Tribune Financial Advisor that the Tribune is advocating that ROD BLAGOJEVICH be impeached for going around the legislature and that "is precisely what we're doing on Wrigley Field." HARRIS said he explained that information to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether Tribune Financial Advisor understood that "we are not in a position where we can afford to do that if . . . the Tribune is pushing impeachment." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "they got that, right?" HARRIS replied, "right." HARRIS suggested to ROD BLAGOJEVICH that HARRIS explained to Tribune Financial Advisor that the Tribune's editorials discussing impeachment "could jeopardize our efforts to do good things for people as well as the other thing (helping the Cubs sale at the IFA)." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "there ya go. He got the message?" HARRIS replied, "yeah." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "good."

 

82. On November 21, 2008, approximately five minutes after the previous conversation with JOHN HARRIS, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke again with HARRIS. At the end of this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that "the Tribune thing is important, if we can get that." HARRIS replied, "delicate, very delicate." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "I know, I know. Use your judgment, don't push too hard. But you know what you got to do, right." HARRIS responded, "Alright, sir."

 

83. After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured HARRIS that the Tribune would be downsizing or making personnel changes affecting the editorial board, During an intercepted call on November 21, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked HARRIS whether he told Deputy Governor A that "McCormick is going to get bounced at the Tribune." (McCormick is believed to be John P. McCormick, the Chicago Tribune's Deputy Editorial Page Editor).

HARRIS said "no, I told him (Deputy Governor A) that McCormick is in a bad mood," and that HARRIS was going "to check with [Tribune Financial Advisor] to see" whether "it was part of that message about the cuts on the Ed board." HARRIS stated, "I had singled out McCormick as somebody who was the most biased and unfair." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "to [Tribune Financial Advisor] you did?" HARRIS confirmed that it was to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "that would be great," and McCormick is a "bad guy." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "[Tribune Financial Advisor] is on top of this, right?" HARRIS replied that Tribune Financial Advisor said they would be "downsizing that division or changing personnel" and that Tribune Financial Advisor understands and "[Tribune Owner]" understands. ROD BLAGOJEVICH confirmed that HARRIS made the point with Tribune Financial Advisor that the Tribune is advocating that ROD BLAGOJEVICH be impeached for going around the legislature and that "is precisely what we're doing on Wrigley Field." HARRIS said he explained that information to Tribune Financial Advisor. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked whether Tribune Financial Advisor understood that "we are not in a position where we can afford to do that if . . . the Tribune is pushing impeachment." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked, "they got that, right?" HARRIS

replied, "right." HARRIS suggested to ROD BLAGOJEVICH that HARRIS explained to Tribune Financial Advisor that the Tribune's editorials discussing impeachment "could jeopardize our efforts to do good things for people as well as the other thing (helping the Cubs sale at the IFA)." ROD BLAGOJEVICH responded, "there ya go. He got the message?" HARRIS replied, "yeah." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "good."

 

82. On November 21, 2008, approximately five minutes after the previous conversation with JOHN HARRIS, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke again with HARRIS. At the end of this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that "the Tribune thing is important, if we can get that." HARRIS replied, "delicate, very delicate." ROD BLAGOJEVICH said, "I know, I know. Use your judgment, don't push too hard. But you know what you got to do, right." HARRIS responded, "Alright, sir."

 

83. After hearing that Tribune Financial Advisor had assured HARRIS that theTribune would be downsizing or making personnel changes affecting the editorial board, ROD BLAGOJEVICH had a series of conversations with representatives of the Chicago Cubs regarding efforts to provide state financing for Wrigley Field. On November 30, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Sports Consultant, the president of a Chicago-area sports consulting firm, whose remarks during the conversation indicated that he was working with the Cubs on matters involving Wrigley Field. In that conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and Sports Consultant discussed the importance of getting the IFA transaction approved at the IFA's December 2008 or January 2009 meeting, because ROD BLAGOJEVICH was contemplating leaving office in early January 2009 and ROD BLAGOJEVICH's IFA appointees would still be in place to approve the IFA deal. On December 3, 2008, ROD

BLAGOJEVICH spoke again with Sports Consultant and explained that ROD BLAGOJEVICH had control over state funds designated for use in connection with science and technology, and which could be used to pay for improvements at Wrigley Field. Later that same day, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Cubs Chairman and said that he could make state science and technology funds available to the Cubs without having to go through the legislature, and suggested that the Cubs come up with proposals that would allow the use of such funds.

 

84. On December 4, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Spokesman. On December 4, 2008, the Chicago Tribune announced it was reducing the size of its workforce by 11 members. During the phone conversation, Spokesman informed ROD BLAGOJEVICH that the Tribune had its "cuts" but that Spokesman did not think the "person we mentioned" was cut. ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked "McCormick?" Spokesman responded "right." ROD BLAGOJEVICH instructed Spokesman to "go tell HARRIS that." Spokesman stated he had already informed HARRIS of the information.

 

85. On the morning December 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with JOHN HARRIS. On the morning of December 5, 2008, the Chicago Tribune ran a front page news story discussing an ongoing criminal investigation involving ROD BLAGOJEVICH. During the phone conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH and HARRIS discussed information contained in the newspaper article. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "what's the deal? So, do McCormick stays at the Tribune, huh?" HARRIS stated "we haven't heard that he's gone, so." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "I mean, those layoffs were minor (the December 4, 2008 Tribune layoffs)." HARRIS stated "well, I know they got a lot to do." ROD BLAGOJEVICH asked "there's still more coming?" HARRIS responded "yeah, they got a lot of cuts to make." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated "okay, at some point we should talk to [Tribune Financial Advisor] again, right?" HARRIS confirmed they should talk to Tribune Financial Advisor again.

My Voice Nation Help
0 comments

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...