Anyone hoping the Blagojevich indictment would flesh out what we already knew about the ex-governor’s alleged scheme to shake down the Tribune Company over Wrigley Field was disappointed. Remember how much attention that charge got when the criminal complaint was announced — the charge that unless Sam Zell fired editorial board members Blagojevich didn’t like, John McCormick in particular, the state wouldn’t help him unload Wrigley Field.
Here’s all the indictment has to say about that:
“ “At times ROD BLAGOJEVICH acted with the assistance of others, including [Alonzo] Monk, [John] Harris, and Robert Blagojevich. These efforts included, but were not limited to, attempts to…:
“e. withhold state financial support that would benefit the Tribune Company, publisher of the Chicago Tribune newspaper, unless the Tribune Company fired editorial board members who had been critical of ROD BLAGOJEVICH…”
Strangely, the 14-page news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office announcing Thursday’s indictment gives more space to the subject than the 75-page indictment itself. Says the announcement:
“The indictment adds several new allegations to those that were lodged in the criminal complaint filed in December when Blagojevich and Harris were arrested. It includes the previous factual allegations that Blagojevich [among other things] threatened to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley FIeld to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich…”
By contrast, the indictment devotes several pages to Blagojevich’s alleged scheme to sell a U.S. Senate seat — which was the even more sensational allegation contained in the criminal complaint. The only thing we know about the Wrigley matter that we didn’t already know is that however marginal it now seems, the U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t let it drop.