Just after accepting the top post with Obama, Rahm Emanuel discussed with Blagojevich the possibility of keeping his congressional seat “warm” for him for a couple of years, the Sun-Times has learned…
Emanuel expressed interest in returning one day to his elected position because he was on track to become U.S. House speaker, the Sun-Times previously reported…
Days after Emanuel and Blagojevich spoke about Emanuel’s seat, the governor is overheard telling aides on secret wiretaps he wanted Emanuel “to get the word today,” about raising money for the governor and that when “[Emanuel] asks me for the Fifth CD thing, I want it to be in his head.” The “Fifth CD” was a reference to Emanuel’s 5th Congressional District seat.
Ace can’t figure out what, precisely, Blago was being asked to do to ensure a “seat-warmer” for the position, and neither can I. Illinois law requires a special election to fill House seats if the nearest regularly scheduled election is more than 180 days away. Maybe Rahm and Blagojevich didn’t know that and wrongly assumed the governor could make an interim appointment, which would have given the appointee the advantage of incumbency in the election. Or maybe Rahm was simply asking Blago to campaign on behalf of whichever seat-warmer was handpicked to run for the seat. I, er, kind of doubt it given that Blago’s approval rating at the time was in the low single digits.
As for the timing, yesterday’s report from Team Barry acknowledged that Emanuel and Blagojevich talked about this in early November, but naturally omitted any unhelpful details about seat-warming:
They spoke about Mr. Emanuel’s House seat, when he would be resigning and potential candidates to replace him. He also had a brief discussion with the Governor about the Senate seat and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider.
So the two vacancies apparently came up in the same conversation. Did they come up during any of the four subsequent phone chats Rahm had with Blago’s chief of staff, too? Team Barry’s report doesn’t say, but then their method of “investigation” apparently involved taking everything the principals told them at face value, without any demand for hard evidence. Whatever the case, if the Sun-Times story is true, Rahm sure was asking a lot of favors from a guy who’s suddenly infamous for expecting a lot for his favors in return.