When Andy Met Blago

When Rod Blagojevich contemplated how to cash in on the “f*****g valuable thing” that is Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, he suggested to an unnamed representative of the SEIU that a high-paying gig with the union might help him pick a labor-friendly candidate.  Originally, speculation centered on Tom Balanoff as the likeliest SEIU official to have fielded that demand, as Balanoff heads the Illinois state organization of the union.  Now the AP reports that both Balanoff and SEIU national president Andy Stern attended a meeting with Blagojevich in the time frame of the complaint:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s official calendar shows he met with a top union official in his Chicago office the day before Barack Obama was elected president — just as federal prosecutors say the governor was scheming to trade Obama’s Senate seat, possibly for a cushy union job.

The meeting with Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, also was attended by Tom Balanoff, president of the Illinois chapter of the union, which has been Blagojevich’s largest campaign contributor.

The governor’s schedules, released Tuesday to The Associated Press, shed new light on the governor’s activities during the period outlined in a criminal complaint that accuses the Democrat of a wide-ranging scheme to profit from official action, such as selling Obama’s U.S. Senate seat and pressuring the Chicago Tribune to fire unfriendly editorial writers. …

The documents raise questions about the involvement of top officials at SEIU, which has given Blagojevich $1.8 million for his two gubernatorial campaigns.

Prosecutors allege one of Blagojevich’s plans was to use his power to appoint a Senate replacement for Obama to get a high-paying job with “Change to Win,” an SEIU-affiliated political action group.

Besides the November 3rd meeting with both Balanoff and Stern, Blagojevich had two other meetings with Balanoff in November.  It seems likely that either Balanoff or Stern were the representative noted in the complaint.  It could be that both of them got hit up for a job in the November 3rd meeting.  Given Blagojevich’s state of mind as revealed in the wiretaps, it seems pretty unlikely that the governor would have let an opportunity to make a sales pitch to the top man in the union pass by without taking advantage of it.

More dots can get connected with the release of the schedules.  The complaint mentions a “Candidate #6”, a man with personal wealth who Blagojevich figured could raise serious money for him.  According to the schedule, Blagojevich had a meeting with Blair Hull at around the same time as in the complaint with Candidate #6.  Hull, a wealthy businessman, lost in the 2004 Senate primaries to Barack Obama, and Blagojevich might have figured Hull would pay to get it.

Looks like we’ll have lots of fun matching names and numbers over the next few weeks.