Rod BlagojevichFrom the very beginning, Governor Rod Blagojevich sought to centralize the operation of state government as much as possible in his office. A cadre of deputy governors has overseen daily agency operations with an iron fist and reported directly to Blagojevich's chief of staff or to the governor himself.

But Blagojevich is now under siege and spending much of his days meeting with attorneys about his criminal case. His chief of staff has resigned, as did one of his deputy governors. Another deputy governor was hired only recently.

Rod BlagojevichI spent a few hours re-reading the federal criminal complaint against Governor Rod Blagojevich and former Chief of Staff John Harris late last week. As I did, one image kept coming to mind over and over again: Howard Hughes.

Reader issue #714 (Editor's note: What follows are excerpts from the 76-page federal criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris. Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday. The full document is available here.)


The Basics

a. Defendant Rod Blagojevich and at times defendant John Harris, together with others, obtained and attempted to obtain financial benefits for Rod Blagojevich, members of the Blagojevich family, and third parties including Friends of Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts, and access to state funds;

Rod BlagojevichIf last week's Chicago Tribune blockbuster story is accurate, then Governor Rod Blagojevich's ultimate inner circle was successfully penetrated by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

The Tribune cited unidentified sources to claim that big-time lobbyist John Wyma's cooperation allowed federal investigators to make "covert tape recordings" of Blagojevich. The governor and his chief of staff were arrested Tuesday.

You just can't get more "inside" than Wyma.

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions - both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

Rich Miller's ongoing coverage can be found HERE.

The historical significance of last week's votes to elect a new Senate president and a new Senate Republican leader is difficult to overstate.

For starters, replacing both chamber leaders at once is an extreme Springfield rarity. According to Kent Redfield, one of the state's leading political scientists, the last time this happened was 34 years ago.

Also, Senator Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) became the first woman in all of Illinois history to lead a legislative party caucus.

The historical novelties, however, pale in comparison to the historical imperatives.

I was interviewed the other day by National Public Radio about the "campaign" to fill President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat. Most of what I said was left on the cutting-room floor, but my message to the NPR reporter was crystal clear: Ignore all the punditry and prognostication.

Two groups, one pro-choice and the other pro-life, are doing their best to bend the Illinois Statehouse to their respective wills. Let's peek in, shall we?

Yet another bizarre year of Illinois politics has been duly capped by Governor Rod Blagojevich's recent stated opposition to a constitutional convention.

Only in Illinois, perhaps, could voters be shocked into voting yes on the convention referendum because their own governor strongly urged a no vote.

The price tag and our state's failed politics appear to be the two biggest arguments against holding a constitutional convention.

Every 20 years, Illinois voters are given the right to call a constitutional convention. I want you to vote "yes," but various interest groups are spending millions to convince you to vote "no."

The "vote no" ads claim the projected cost of holding a convention is too high, especially considering that the state is running a horrific budget deficit.

They aren't telling you something.