Commentary: Blagojevich's greed

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Just when we thought North Carolina had entered the big leagues of political corruption – not enviable company, to be sure – along comes Illinois to put us in our place. Jim Black & Co. simply can't hold a candle to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Our former Democratic House speaker crossed legal lines with his wheeling and dealing, and he's spending richly deserved time in a federal prison camp as a result. But Illinois' Democratic governor acts, allegedly, as if there were no boundaries at all – legal, ethical, elementary self-protection – to blatant corruption, including putting Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat up for sale to the highest bidder.

"You gotta be careful how you express that and assume everybody's listening, the whole world is listening. You hear me?" That's Blagojevich, on a recording transcribed by the FBI. But then, according to prosecutors, the governor proceeds to spill out a torrent of cuss words, threats and greedy, illegal schemes intended to enrich himself.

"I want to make money," Blagojevich says at one point. The Senate appointment is his ticket to Easy Street – although he might take the slot himself.

For TV viewers, it plays like a cross between HBO's "The Wire" and "The Sopranos." Little wonder U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald – whose earlier prosecution of Blagojevich's predecessor put Republican George Ryan in prison – called the allegations appalling.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Related stories from McClatchy DC