So, besides being accused of extorting campaign contributions and selling a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, Illinois governor Rob Blagojevich is also accused of withholding funds the Tribune Company should have received as part of the sale of Wrigley Field unless the company fired some members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.
Suddenly newspaper people are important again!
The government also accuses Blagojevich and Harris of threatening to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Company -- the company that owns the Chicago Tribune -- in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field baseball stadium. The company also owns the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field.
In exchange for assistance, the governor and his chief of staff wanted the newspaper to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members who were sharply critical of the governor, the government said.
The affidavit also outlines Blagojevich conversations related to Tribune Co., which has been hoping to sell Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs which the publishing giant also owns.
Blagojevich was quoted in court papers as telling Harris in a profanity laced Nov. 4 conversation that his recommendation to Tribune executives was to fire the editorial writers "and get us some editorial support."
Harris is quoted as telling the governor Nov. 11 that an unnamed Tribune Owner, presumably CEO Sam Zell, "got the message and is very sensitive to the issue."
The affidavit said Harris quoted a Tribune financial adviser as saying cuts were coming at the newspaper and "reading between the lines he's going after that section," apparently meaning editorial writers. Blagojevich is quoted as saying: "Oh, that's fantastic."
"Wow," Blagojevich allegedly replied. "Keep our fingers crossed. You're the man. Good job, John."
Harris allegedly told Blagojevich in his conversation with the financial adviser he had singled out deputy editorial page editor John McCormick as "somebody who was the most biased and unfair."
After hearing that, Blagojevich allegedly stressed to the head of a Chicago sports consulting firm that it was important to provide state aid for a Wrigley Field sale.
It also appears that the Tribune, while doing its own investigation in the governor's alleged corrupt practices, was asked by the prosecutors to delay the story. According to Tibune editor Gerould Kern, the paper agreed in "isolated incidents."