Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the man who attempted to sell Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat in 2008, is in Colorado Thursday to begin his 14-year sentence for corruption. In June of last year, jurors found Blagojevich guilty of 18 counts relating to the attempted sale of Obama's Senate seat and extortion of state funds. A year earlier, he was convicted of lying to the FBI.
After Obama was elected president, then-Gov. Blagojevich's had the authority to select his replacement in the U.S. Senate. In one conversation about Obama's vacated Senate seat recorded by the FBI, Blagojevich said, "I've got this thing, and it's [expletive] golden. And I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not going to do it." He allegedly sought powerful political appointments and high-paying positions for both himself and his wife in exchange for the Senate seat.
Prior to his arrest in 2008, Blagojevich had been targeted in a three-year federal investigation of conspiracy, corruption and influence peddling in Illinois called Operation Board Games.
According to authorities, Blagojevich threatened the CEO of Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital that he would block the hospital from receiving state funds if he did not pay a tribute of $50,000 to Blagojevich's campaign.
Blagojevich was also charged with extorting the Tribune Company, owners of the Chicago Tribune, in an effort to get editors who criticized him fired. Federal prosecutors alleged that he attempted to use bribes to leverage editorial support in the newspaper.
According the Associated Press, reporters and photographers gathered at Blagojevich's Chicago home early Thursday morning, awaiting his departure for Colorado.
He has insisted that what he did as governor was legal.
"While my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America, this is a country that is governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail," Blagojevich told those gathered outside his home. "As bad as it is, [this] is the beginning of another part of a long and hard journey that will only get worse before it gets better, but...this is not over."
Blagojevich will be the second former Illinois governor in jail. George Ryan, convicted of federal corruption charges after he left office in 2003, is currently serving a prison sentence in Indiana.