Blagojevich free on bail - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Blagojevich free on bail


Washington, D.C. (ABC) -- Illinois' governor is free on bail this morning and Barack Obama is keeping his distance.

  Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on political corruption charges - including trying to sell Obama's now-vacant senate seat and refusing to help the Tribune company with the sale of Wrigley Field unless the Chicago Tribune editorial board was fired.

  Federal attorneys called it a "political corruption crime spree".

  Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff John Harris were taken into custody early Tuesday morning.

  Federal prosectuors say wiretaps captured Blagojevich making threats and demands for cash, allegedly selling state business for favors and contributions.

  The U.S. attorney said even President-elect Barack Obama's vacant senate seat was for sale. 

  Obama's not accused of any wrongdoing.

  Prosecutors say Blagojevich also threatened to pull millions in state funds from a children's hospital unless its CEO made a 50-thousand dollar campaign contribution.

  He's also accused of targeting the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune for writing critical stories about him.

  Columnist Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune said, "in the dark history of corruption in Illinois this is, I think, the darkest day."

  Even with the arrest, Blagojevich still retains power to appoint someone to fill the vacant senate seat.

  And political leaders quickly called for state lawmakers to approve a special election.

  Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, "no appointment by this governor under these circumstances could produce a credible replacement."

  This is familiar territory for Illinois residents.

  Three other governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years, including Blagojevich's
predecessor George Ryan, who's currently serving a prison sentence in Wisconsin.

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