President-elect Barack Obama said he was “absolutely certain” no one close to him was involved with the Illinois governor’s alleged attempt to sell his vacant US Senate seat, and vowed to release the results of an internal review in a few days.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on charges that he put Obama’s seat up for bidding. The governor has ignored repeated calls for his resignation, including another one by Obama on Thursday, and retains the power to appoint Obama’s replacement.
Nothing in the federal complaint suggests any wrongdoing by Obama or his staff. But the accusations against Blagojevich are an unwelcome distraction to Obama’s transition, bringing fresh attention to some of the unsavoury characters that have connections, however distant, to Obama and to questions of whether he can follow through on his message of change and clean government.
Blagojevich, meanwhile, went to work in his Chicago office in what a spokesman described in an “upbeat, positive” mood. Blagojevich’s lawyers have insisted he is innocent, and stressed he still has important work to do for the state of Illinois.