Did SEIU Offer Blagojevich Anything To Appoint A Senator?
Update: Politico has confirmed the SEIU official was Andy Stern, head of the SEIU. Change to Win, which is where the jobs Blagocevichwas asking for for himself and his wife, has denied any contact with Blagojevich.
SEIU’s Communication Director, Ramona Oliver, has put out a rather uninformative denial:
We have no reason to believe that SEIU or any SEIU official was involved in any wrongdoing.
In keeping with the U.S. Attorney’s request, we are not sharing information with the media at this time.
Blagojevich seems to have mainly wanted money, because his family was having financial problems, and possibly to have a political future of some sort.
However Blagojevich seems to have kept changing his mind about specifically what he wanted from SEIU. At one point he wanted a 501(c)(4) organization set up with 10 to 15 million bucks in it. The organization would help the new Senator, but it looks like it would be run by Blagojevich. The unnamed union official agreed to "send up a flare".
At a different point Blagejovich wanted to be put in charge of Change to Win, which is affiliated with SEIU. It sounds like the SEIU official objected on the basis that other folks were doing the work already, but Harris (Blagojevich’s chief of staff) seemed to think that a three way quid pro quo could be worked out in which Obama gave something to SEIU and SEIU gave Blagojevich the job. No indication if SEIU was good with this. Then Blagojevich got the bright idea that perhaps SEIU could give his wife a job.
The questions now are these:
1) Who was the unnamed union official? (Update: according to Politico, it was Andy Stern)
2) Is any of this criminally corrupt? Was Harris reading in that SEIU was willing to do the 3 way deal? Was the request for a job effectively politely brushed off "gee, we’d love to, but ummm, other people are doing the work" or was it being seriously considered. It’s hard to tell from what’s in Fitzgerald’s document.