Today marks the 9th day of jury deliberations in the Blagojevich corruption trial. Early in their deliberations, the jurors asked the judge for a full transcript of the trial, including the prosecution’s closing arguments, which provided a comprehensive road map of the 28 counts and corresponding evidence against Blagojevich and his brother. The judge denied the request.
The identities of the six-man, six-woman jury are being kept secret until after a verdict is reached. Give the scope and complexity of the case, the length of the deliberations should surprise no one.
In addition to the Senate seat-trading scam, the jury must reach decisions on:
— a shady, Tony Rezko-connected state pension bond sale;
— attempted extortion of then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel, whose brother Blago wanted to host a fund-raiser in exchange for a $2 million football field grant sought by a school in Emanuel’s congressional district;
— attempted extortion and bribery of Children’s Memorial Hospital;
— conspiracy to extort and bribe a race-track owner in exchange for horse-racing industry tax subsidies;
— and attempted bribery and extortion of a road construction executive, whom Blago wanted to hold a fund-raiser in exchange for $6 billion in government tollway projects.
Jurors from the last Illinois gubernatorial corruption trial that put George Ryan in prison share their experience with AP:
They wanted a law book to help them understand the jury instructions, and wondered why the judge wouldn’t give it to them. Bunched together, with the restroom so close, they got to know each other intimately. And the nonsmokers groused when the others were allowed a cigarette break.
As jurors in ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial enter their second full week of deliberations, another group of 12 has an inkling of what’s going on behind their closed door: The jurors whose 2006 verdict put George Ryan, another former Illinois governor, behind bars.
They also felt the pressure of deciding a complex, high-stakes case, knowing their verdict would make headlines across the nation.
“There’s stress, disagreements, arguments, quiet time, a lot of emotion,” said former Ryan juror Karen James, a postal worker.
Two jurors in the Ryan case were ousted after suppressing info on their jury questionnaires about their encounters with police.
Will we see similar shenanigans with the Blago jury?
It’s Chicago, after all…
Related Blago fallout:
A small Chicago-based bank, Ravenswood, was shut down last week by federal regulators. Blago kept some of his campaign funds there, and prosecutors say they could seize the money as part of the trial.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. (“Senate Candidate A”) is still on the hook for his connection to the Blago stain. Prepare for more race card-playing:
One damaging detail to emerge is that Jackson may have known about supporters’ plans to raise at least $1 million on the condition that Blagojevich appoint him to President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.
Of all the public figures whose names came up during the trial, Jackson has suffered the most political fallout. These days he keeps a low profile in his district, rarely appearing in public and avoiding the media — especially when it comes to questions about Blagojevich.
“There’s no doubt that his ambitions have taken a hit,” said Roosevelt University political scientist Paul Green. “Right now all his options are on hold.”
Jackson, 45, has not been charged and denies wrongdoing, but there’s little doubt he remains on the radar of federal prosecutors. A House ethics investigation of him, delayed at prosecutors’ request, was scheduled to resume after the trial.
Still unanswered: Why Blago’s defense team didn’t call White House senior adviser, Chicago mentor, and Obama consigliere Valerie Jarrett to the stand. Or shady banking buddy Alexi Giannoulias, who connected Jarrett to SEIU heavy Tom Balanoff. Or Rahm Emanuel. Or Harry Reid. Or Dick Durbin:
By the time prosecutors and defense attorneys were done, there had been no sharp-tongued Rahm Emanuel on the stand, squaring off with Blagojevich’s lawyers over the White House chief of staff’s talks with an adviser to the ousted governor about who to appoint to the Senate.
There was no Alexi Giannoulias, the current Illinois treasurer and Democratic candidate for Obama’s old seat, being asked about how he introduced a union official to a close Obama adviser that Blagojevich considered for the Senate seat.
And there was no testimony from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a Democrat, who Blagojevich’s lawyers also originally subpoenaed to testify about the appointment.
Blagojevich’s lawyers rested their case last week without calling a single witness, not even the former governor himself…That none of them ended up testifying doesn’t mean Republicans will let voters forget that Blagojevich is a Democrat as they try to pry loose the party’s grip on the Senate seat and Illinois state government.
Yep. Remember in November.
I’m again reminded of the observation of one veteran Chicago political observer from February 2008:
“We have a sick political culture,” said Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, “and that’s the environment that Barack Obama came from. Stewart says he does not understand why Obama has lectured others about corruption in Washington and Kenya but “been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state, including at this point, mostly Democratic politicians.”
For much more on the sick Chicago politics that Obama brought with him to Washington, check out the paperback edition of Culture of Corruption — released today!