Hmmm: House Ethics Committee to get testimony from Robert Blagojevich

Looks like we may not have heard the last from the Rod Blagojevich corruption scandal after all.  The former Illinois governor got a 14-year prison sentence in December on federal charges, following the career path forged by more than one of his predecessors in the office.  His brother Robert, however, is still free to travel — and will apparently visit Washington DC to tell the House Ethics Committee what he knows about an alleged deal between his brother and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for Barack Obama’s then-vacant Senate seat:

As Rod Blagojevich serves a 14-year sentence for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, the former governor’s brother is headed to Washington to talk about who he says offered to buy it.

The U.S. House Committee on Ethics, which is investigating U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), is expected to interview Robert Blagojevich later this month, sources tell the Chicago Sun-Times. …

Rob Blagojevich — a former military man whose life was upended after being charged along with his brother — has said he has more to tell Congress about Jesse Jackson Jr.’s alleged involvement in the Senate seat sale. Some of the information about the case has not been made public, he has said.

Robert Blagojevich has been very public in attempting to get their attention.  The corruption case itself, as the Chicago Sun-Times recalls in its article, had evidence that the disgraced governor understood that Jackson would give Blagojevich $1.5 million to bolster his campaign coffers in exchange for the appointment.  Presumably, the governor’s brother has some dots that he can connect in this regard.

The Ethics Committee has had this case since 2009.  At the same time that Rod Blagojevich got convicted, the Office of Congressional Ethics reported publicly that they found “probable cause” that Jackson had either known of a pay-for-play proposal, or was directly involved in it.  Earlier, the Sun-Times also reported that one of Jackson’s donors told federal investigators almost two years ago that Jackson had told him to make an offer of $6 million, although Raghuveer Nayak might also be bargaining to get out from underneath a separate and unrelated federal investigation.  Testimony from the governor’s brother might tend to corroborate Nayak’s account of the proposal, which would put Jackson in rather deep trouble, and not just with the Ethics Committee.

Would the Ethics Committee take any action even if Robert Blagojevich could deliver those goods?  I’m skeptical.  They are still sitting on the probe of Maxine Waters and her actions to intervene on behalf of a bank in which her husband owned a substantial stake.  With a national election approaching, it would be remarkable to see the kind of ethics trial we saw with Charlie Rangel in 2010.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on February 02, 2023