Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested for attempting to sell the U.S. Senate seat that President-elect Barack Obama was to vacate, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced here Tuesday.
At a press conference, Fitzgerald said Blagojevich would face federal corruption charges. His Chief of Staff, John Harris, was also arrested on Tuesday on accusations that he took part in the schemes to enrich the governor.
Fitzgerald talked about recordings in which Blagojevich allegedly talked in frank language about how he would try to leverage the best value out of the Obama's Senate seat.
Robert Grant, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent in charge of the Chicago office, said the arrest of Blagojevich should serve as notice that "business as usual will no longer be tolerated. That selling your office for personal gain is a thing of the past."
In response to the scandal in his home state, Obama told reporters that "I had no contact with the governor or his office, and so I was not aware of what was happening."
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's Chief of Staff John Harris leaves the federal court after his arraignment in Chicago December 9, 2008.
Fitzgerald said prosecutors were making "no allegations" that Obama was aware of any scheming.
Meanwhile, federal investigators also found that Blagojevich sought to pressure the state's largest newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, to dismiss some writers who had suggested the governor should be removed after a three-year investigation of alleged hiring fraud.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald points to a reporter as he takes questions after announcing charges leveled against current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich during a news conference at the Dirksen Federal building in Chicago, Illinois December 9, 2008.
Investigators who secretly taped the governor's phone calls said the recordings made clear that Blagojevich was demanding the firings as a condition of any state financial help with attempts by the newspaper's parent company to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team's ballpark, Wrigley Field. Source:Xinhua