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Operation Board Games timeline

 

• Rod Blagojevich is elected governor in November 2002.

• In 2002, according to an indictment, Stuart Levine conspires to defraud the Teachers’ Retirement System where he served as a board member.

• Between 2003 and 2004, Blagojevich adviser and fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko and Levine scheme to collect kickbacks from firms seeking business in Illinois, according to prosecutors.

• In August 2003, Blagojevich reappoints Levine to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

• In May 2004, Blagojevich reappoints Levine to the Teachers’ Retirement System board.

• On May 9, 2005, Levine is indicted on charges that he was involved in a kickback scheme related to the facilities planning board. According to the Chicago Tribune, “the revelation is the first indication that the Blagojevich administration is under federal criminal investigation.”

• In August 2005, Levine is indicted on corruption charges related to TRS.

• In October 2005, the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Blagojevich is the individual prosecutors described as Public Official A in court documents concerning the ongoing Operation Board Games investigation.

• On October 11, 2006, Blagojevich fundraiser Rezko is indicted in two separate cases. He is charged with seeking millions in kickbacks and campaign donations for the governor.

• On October 27, 2006, Levine pleads guilty to corruption charges.

• On May 23, 2007, the Tribune reports that federal prosecutors subpoenaed records from Blagojevich’s campaign fund.

• On December 13, 2007, Blagojevich’s chief fundraiser, Chris Kelly, is indicted on tax evasion charges involving gambling losses.

• Beginning January 1, 2008, Blagojevich and Chief of Staff John Harris demand that the Chicago Tribune fire editorial page staff members in exchange for financial assistance related to the potential lease of Wrigley Field to the state, according to the federal prosecutor’s complaint.

• In May 2008, Ali Ata, who was appointed by Blagojevich as executive director of the Illinois Finance Authority, pleads guilty to making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tax fraud. In his plea agreement, he agrees to cooperate in the government’s investigation of Blagojevich.

• On May 31, 2008, lawmakers pass ethics reforms limiting campaign contributions from state contractors.

• On June 4, 2008, Rezko is convicted of using his political ties to the governor to run a kickback scheme.

• On August 25, 2008, Blagojevich vetoes the ethics bill, saying it’s not tough enough and doesn’t cover lawmakers.

• On September 22, 2008, the legislature overrides the governor’s veto of the ethics bill.

• On October 8, 2008, federal prosecutors say they learned that Blagojevich is considering rescinding $8 million in state funds pledged to Children’s Memorial Hospital because a hospital executive had not made a recent campaign contribution, according to the complaint.

• In early October 2008, prosecutors say they discovered that Blagojevich “was accelerating his corrupt fundraising activities to accumulate as much money as possible before the implementation of ethics legislation on January 1, 2009, that would severely curtail [his] ability to raise money from individuals and entities conducting business with the State of Illinois.”

• On October 30, 2008, Springfield powerbroker William Cellini is indicted, with prosecutors charging that he had extorted campaign contributions for Blagojevich.

• On November 3, 2008, Blagojevich discusses what he might receive in exchange for appointing someone to the U.S. Senate seat to be later vacated by the president-elect, according to the prosecution’s complaint: The Senate seat “is a [expletive] valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

• On November 4, 2008, Blagojevich allegedly tells Harris to inform the Tribune’s financial adviser, the Chicago Cubs chairman and the Tribune’s owner that “our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get ’em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support.”

• On November 7, 2008, Blagojevich, Harris and a deputy governor allegedly discuss private foundations or boards where the governor might be able to get a job in exchange for filling the Senate seat. According to prosecutors, Blagojevich wanted a salary of $250,000 to $300,000.

• On November 7, 2008, according to prosecutors, Blagojevich tells an adviser he is willing to “trade” the Senate seat in exchange for the position of secretary of Health and Human Services in the president-elect’s Cabinet, according to the affidavit. Harris was heard saying that Blagojevich would like a job for himself heading the Service Employees International Union-related organization Change to Win, according to the complaint.

• On November 12, 2008, Blagojevich, according to prosecutors, tells Harris that his decision about the open Senate seat will be based on three criteria in the following order of importance: “our legal situation, our personal situation, my political situation.”

• On December 4, 2008, Blagojevich allegedly tells an adviser that he might “get some [money] up front, maybe” from U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to ensure that he will keep a promise to raise funds for Blagojevich if he runs for re-election, according to the complaint.

• On December 5, 2008, the Tribune reports that the federal government has made covert tapes of Blagojevich.

• On December 9, 2008, FBI agents arrest Blagojevich at his home. He and Harris are charged with political corruption. Harris has since resigned.

Illinois Issues, January 2009

 

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