One day after federal agents arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and a top aide, one of his deputy governors has resigned without explanation.
Bob Greenlee, who stepped down Wednesday, appears to be "Deputy Governor A" in the complaint filed by federal prosecutors against Blagojevich. The governor and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested and arraigned yesterday. Both were released on bond.
The document describes numerous secretly-recorded conversations between "Deputy Governor A" and the governor in which they strategize about how the governor can financially benefit from his power to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the Senate, and other topics.
A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to an inquiry for this story.
"'Deputy Governor A' has a whole lot to worry about," said Jay Stewart, president of the Chicago-based watchdog group, the Better Government Association. "The way I read it, 'Deputy Governor A' is scheming with the governor. There's no other way to put it." Stewart said he believed the facts in the complaint pointed to Greenlee as "Deputy Governor A."
The complaint identifies "Deputy Governor A" as a man, and cites his conversations with Blagojevich last month. At that time, Greenlee was the only male deputy governor of Illinois. A second male deputy governor, Dean Martinez, joined Blagojevich's team Dec. 1.
"We have to hear all of the tapes" made by federal investigators of Blagojevich's conversations "to draw firm conclusions" about what Greenlee may have been involved in, Stewart cautioned. And his resignation may not be connected to the governor's arrest. "Maybe [Greenlee] is just 'unhappy with the direction the office is taking,' and so on," he said.
The deputy governor was a confidante to Blagojevich while the governor mulled ways to personally benefit from his power to fill Illinois' vacant Senate seat, the complaint indicates. He suggested the governor assemble a list of things the governor would accept in exchange for the Senate seat, according to the document. (Blagojevich, perhaps mindful of past scandals, commented that the list "can't be in writing," prosecutors say.)
"Deputy Governor A" advised the governor that although it's hard not to give it to a Texan, "the cabinet position of Secretary of the Energy is 'the one that makes the most money,'" the complaint alleges.
The deputy governor also discussed with Blagojevich potential private foundations he could helm in exchange for the Senate seat, focusing on those "heavily dependent on federal aid" that an Obama White House could influence, prosecutors say.
The complaint also indicates the deputy governor was deeply involved in Blagojevich's proposed deal with the Tribune Co., which owns both the Chicago Tribune newspaper and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
Blagojevich was upset by the negative coverage and editorials the paper ran about him, and wanted to hold up a $100 million tax break for the Cubs until the Tribune Co.'s owner, Sam Zell, agreed to fire the editors responsible from the paper.
The deputy governor endorsed the idea of playing hardball with Zell, according to the complaint. ". . . I would tell him, look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune," it quotes the deputy governor as saying during a November conversation with Blagojevich. He cautioned later that the approach to the Tribune Co. needed to be "sensitive," prosecutors allege.