Blagojevich Has Unpaid Legal Bills of $500,000

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who repeatedly referred to financial troubles in conversations taped by federal investigators, owes more than $500,000 to a law firm, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Earlier this year, Blagojevich, “strapped for cash and burdened by a years-long federal investigation into his administration, stopped paying a portion of the millions in fees owed to Winston & Strawn.”

Matthews Still Weighing Decision

A tipster tells FishbowlDC that NBC News has given Hardball host Chris Matthews until after the holidays to consider their contract offer. 

According to a leak a few days ago, a new deal with Matthews was supposed to be announced this week — which means he’s probably still considering running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.

Phil Singer: “It seems to me that someone leaked disinformation to quell concerns about the ethics of allowing Matthews to stay on the air while he contemplates going for the senate seat.”

Quote of the Day

“There are two views of politics. There’s a view of politics that says you go into this for sacrifice and public service and then there’s a view of politics that says this is business, and you’re wheeling and dealing and what’s in it for me.”

— President-elect Obama, commenting on the politics in his home state of Illinois.

Interviewing with Blago

Speechwriter Dan Conley reflects on his job interview with then newly-elected Gov. Rod Blagojevich and says that if the governor “wants to plead insanity in his federal corruption trial, he may call me as a witness.”

Obama Will Detail Staff Contacts with Blagojevich

President-elect Obama stated at a press conference that he’s “absolutely certain” that no one on his staff was involved in Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pay-for-play scheme for filling Obama’s old Senate seat. Most importantly, Obama said that his staff is compiling of its own contacts with the governor and his staff and will release that information “in the next few days.”

Plouffe Reflects

Lloyd Grove has a must-read interview with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe who notes Sen. Hillary Clinton “might well have won the nomination if she had just competed in the far-flung caucus states that handed Obama his insurmountable delegate lead in February and March.”

Said Plouffe: “We woke up every day wondering, is today the day they’re going to show up in Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington State? And every day they didn’t, that enabled us really to build up our strength there.”

Most Want Blagojevich to Resign

A new Glengariff Group survey in Illinois conducted over the last two nights about Gov. Rod Blagojevich finds: 

  • 70% say the Blagojevich should resign now while 25% say he should wait until the time he is found guilty.
  • By a margin of 73% to 14%, voters want Blagojevich impeached.
  • Blagojevich’s job approval is at 7% approve/83% disapprove while a ski high 73% strongly disapprove of his job performance.

Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen Reports poll shows that 84% of state residents want Blagojevich to resign.


How Much is a Senate Seat Worth?

The Club for Growth makes a few assumptions about an average U.S. Senator’s career and calculates that a Senate seat is worth approximately $6.2 million.

Divorcing Bush

First Read on the new WSJ/NBC News poll: “While the public is giving Obama a nice honeymoon, it’s finalizing its divorce from President Bush. A whopping 79% in the poll say they’re not going to miss him when he leaves office. That’s compared with 55% who said the same of Clinton in December of 2000. Moreover, almost half (48%) think that Bush will go down as one of the worst presidents in our history. Just 18% said that of Clinton and only 6% said that of Bush 41.”

Obama Team Very Worried About Economy

Marc Ambinder: “It’s quite unsettling to talk to members of Barack Obama’s transition teams these days, especially those who are helping with the economics portfolio. Without going into details, the sense I get from them is that they are very worried that the economy will get a lot worse before it gets better. Not just worse… a lot worse.”

Bill Clinton May Testify at Wife’s Confirmation Hearings

“Senate Republicans are considering asking Bill Clinton to testify at his wife’s confirmation hearing about potential conflicts of interest involving his worldwide charitable enterprises,” according to Politico.


Daschle Appointment Means Ambitious Reform

Mike Allen, on the naming  today of former Sen. Tom Daschle to lead President-elect Obama’s heath care reform efforts:

“Daschle, who was developing a passion for health care, did not want to be HHS secretary — or at least was lukewarm on it — unless he was given a health-czar role. HHS is a monstrous bureaucracy (NIH, FDA, etc.) and is not a place to effect health-care reform. Although you won’t hear them making the analogy, Obama aides want to use the Cheney-energy-task-force model of using the White House as a place to hash out issues before they got to the Hill and Cabinet. So the Office of Health Reform will be like a special-projects arm of the White House. By adding that role to his spot in the Cabinet, he’s aligning the planets to allow him to push for significant changes — to try for health reform more ambitious than people are thinking.”

The Forever War

The Forever WarTime picks The Forever War by Dexter Filkins as the best non-fiction book of the last year.

“The gaping wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan have produced a torrent of words, but no single volume so far has the precision and power of The Forever War. Filkins has been covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 1998, and since then he has filled 561 notebooks with observations and interviews. Even under the direst of conditions Filkins is alive to novelistic detail: the popping sound of a 105 mm cannon, like ‘a machine that served tennis balls’; a barber shaving the beards of Talibs so they can switch sides; a man whom Saddam forced to pay for the bullets that were used to execute his brother, and who received a receipt for his payment. Filkins’ set pieces have the absolute clarity of lightning flashes that burn away the fog of war.”

Also of note: The best political lines and best election photo.


Appointed Senators Rarely Win Election on Their Own

Nate Silver notes that appointed U.S. Senators rarely make good candidates in real elections.

“Over the past 25 Congresses, there have been, by my count, 48 senators who selected by gubernatorial appointment in midterm (this excludes cases where a senator-elect acceded to office a few days early to gain seniority on his colleagues, a once-common courtesy that is becoming less so.) Of those 48 senators, only 19 — fewer than 40 percent — won their subsequent special election.” 

  • 12 of the 48 (25%) ran for office, but were defeated in the general election;
  • 7 of the 48 (15%) ran for office, but were defeated in the primary;
  • 10 of the 48 (21%) chose not to seek a permanent term (including one who was prohibited by state law from doing so).

In contrast, among incumbent senators since 1990, about 81% of senators have sought re-election, and among those have sought it, 88% have won it.

Obama Honeymoon Continues

President-elect Obama “is entering the White House with an enormous reservoir of goodwill from an American public that is rooting for his success in the face of bad economic times,” a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

“The poll found that 73% of adults approve of the way he is handling the transition and his preparations for becoming president… Polling indicates that the nation is more unified around Mr. Obama than it was for either Bill Clinton in 1992 or George W. Bush in 2000. Americans say the challenges, too, are greater, with 77% of those surveyed predicting Mr. Obama will face bigger problems than most recent presidents have.”

Daschle Appointment Announced Thursday

President-elect Obama plans a press conference today  to announce that former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) would lead efforts to improve the U.S. health care system as the secretary of Health and Human Services.

Obama Picks Green Team

President-elect Obama “has picked a Nobel laureate, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and officials from New Jersey and Los Angeles to run his energy and environmental initiatives, putting heft into roles likely to dominate domestic policy in his first years in office,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Steven Chu will be nominated as secretary of energy. Carol Browner will coordinate energy policy from the White House in a new “energy czar” role. Lisa Jackson, an environmental-policy official in New Jersey, will be EPA administrator, and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley is to be named chairwoman of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality.

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