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December 05, 2008

Feds taped Blagojevich

The circle appears to be closing in on ethically embattled Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  The Chicago Tribune reports today that the governor's former congressional chief of staff, John Wyma, wore a wiretap to help federal investigators secure an indictment against him.

As Illinois political expert Rich Miller writes on his Capitol Fax blog, Wyma isn't just any Blago staffer. He's one of the governor's "closest political and personal friends."

Blagojevich is tasked with appointing a successor for President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, and this news will certainly color coverage of that decision.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Federal investigators recently made covert tape recordings of Gov. Rod Blagojevich in the most dramatic step yet in their corruption investigation of him and his administration, the Tribune has learned.

As part of this undercover effort, one of the governor's closest confidants and former aides cooperated with investigators, and that assistance helped lead to recordings of the governor and others, sources said.

The cooperation of John Wyma, 42, one of the state's most influential lobbyists, is the most stunning evidence yet that Blagojevich's once-tight inner circle appears to be collapsing under the pressure of myriad pay-to-play inquiries.

Wyma, Blagojevich's chief of staff when he was in Congress, has long been one of the few advisers trusted by Blagojevich and kept in the loop on matters of policy and politics. As the federal probe intensified, Wyma met privately with the governor and his former chief of staff at the governor's campaign headquarters on the North Side for 90 minutes on Oct. 22.

Confronted outside that meeting, Wyma declined to talk to Tribune reporters about what the meeting was about before jumping into his car. The next day, the Tribune was the first to report that Wyma's name appeared in a federal subpoena delivered to Provena Health, a former client of his.