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June 01, 2009

Blago's conversation with Durbin

The Associated Press reports on a significant development in the ongoing Illinois corruption scandal – involving a conversation about the Illinois Senate seat between former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin:

Just two weeks before his arrest on corruption charges, then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich floated a plan to give President Obama's former Senate seat to the daughter of his biggest political rival in return for concessions on his pet projects, people familiar with the plan told The Associated Press.

Blagojevich told Sen. Dick Durbin he was thinking of naming Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the seat, according to two Durbin aides who spoke on condition of anonymity.
A Madigan appointment would have been a political shocker because the governor had been warring politically with her father, powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, on and off for Blagojevich's two terms in office.

Last November, Madigan said the chance was "less than zero" the governor would offer her the seat, adding that she did not believe she was even being considered. She is a likely contender in the 2010 governor's race.

It was already known that Blagojevich thought of her as a possible pick for the Senate seat but this conversation, unreported until now, provides details and shows he went as far as discussing the idea with at least one high-ranking fellow Democrat.

The 10-minute conversation took place Nov. 24 as Durbin was in his car using his cell phone, according to the aides. One aide said Durbin considered the idea an "innocuous compromise" and offered to help, but was told by the governor to "do nothing," and never heard more on the matter.

"He said he was struggling with it morally," one of the aides said of the governor, adding that he did not understand why.