What does Rob have new to say?
HERALD-NEWS editorial April 19, 2012 8:34PM
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:32AM
So the U.S. House Ethics Committee has accepted Rob Blagojevich’s offer to spill the beans in the “What Am I Bid for This Golden Senate Seat?” episode.
This sounds like fun for those who didn’t get enough of the former governor’s felonious tomfoolery. But we’re sure that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-2nd) is not amused.
Without pretending to clairvoyance, we can guess that when Rob shows up at the ethics committee, Topic A will be how a Jackson emissary offered to buy President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat for up to a $6 million donation to Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund.
We’re pleased that the committee is giving Rob a chance to shed light on what really happened in that ultimate “pay-for-play” scheme, but we’re not sure he’s going to be much help.
He testified during his brother’s first trial, in which he also was a defendant, that the Blagojevich camp didn’t take seriously the offer by a Jackson emissary, Raghuveer Nayak, a fundraiser for the congressman who also was a close and trusted friend.
Nayak told federal authorities that Jackson directed him to approach the Blagojevich camp with $6 million in hand. Jackson has denied that, saying he never knew of such a proposal.
Rob was his brother’s point man in the negotiations and knows exactly how it all went down. He played it down during his trial testimony to protect his brother, but evidence at trial regarding phone calls between the brothers indicated they took Nayak seriously and wanted to seal the deal.
Will Rob color it differently before the ethics committee? And what of his credibility, and potential criminal liability, if he does?
The ethics committee may not need much convincing that Jackson orchestrated the effort to buy the Senate seat. In its 2009 report, made public in December, the Office of Congressional Ethics says there’s “probable cause” to believe that Jackson directed Nayak to make the offer or knew Nayak did so. The question is what penalty, if any, the committee will impose.
We hope Rob Blagojevich can help the committee get at the truth in this sordid episode, but we fear it’s too late.