President-elect Barack Obama Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Monday that a review of transition staff contacts with Illinois Governor Rod Balgojevich confirms Obama’s statements that the President-elect "had no contact" with the governor or his staff and that transition staff "was not involved in inappropriate discussions with the governor or his staff over the selection of his successor as U.S. Senator."
That leaves open the possibility that transition staff did discuss the seat, which would not be a surprise, but flatly denies that any of those discussions strayed into the kind of pay-for-play deals Blagojevich is alleged to have tried to broker in an effort to line up a job and a new source of income, after his second term was over.
Although Obama senior advisor David Axelrod said last month the President-elect had talked with the governor about the Senate seat, he sent out a statement late Tuesday saying he had been wrong. "I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy," he said in a statement e-mailed to B&C by the Obama transition office. "They did not then or at any time discuss the subject."
Pfeiffer says the review is done and ready for public release, but that the U.S. Attorney's office has requested it not be released until the week of Dec. 22 so that it does not conflict with their ongoing investigation of the governor for allegedly trying to sell Obama's vacated Illinois Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Among the accusations are that the governor tried to force Tribune to fire a member of its editorial board critical of the governor as a condition of helping the financially-troubled company sell Wrigley Field.
Blagojevich's arrest came a day after Tribune filed for bankruptcy.
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