Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Robert M. “Mike” Duncan released the following statement today.
President-elect Barack Obama’s carefully parsed and vague statements regarding his own contact and that of his team with Governor Rod Blagojevich are unacceptable. Considering the severity of the allegations against Governor Blagojevich, the President-elect should immediately disclose any and all communications his transition team has had with the governor’s office along with any Service Employees International Union (SEIU) officials involved in the matter. Obama’s promise of transparency to the American people is now being tested.
The question related to the SEIU is this portion of the complaint:
On November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with SEIU Official, who was in Washington, D.C. Prior intercepted phone conversations indicate that approximately a week before this call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH met with SEIU Official to discuss the vacant Senate seat, and ROD BLAGOJEVICH understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1’s interest in the Senate seat. During the conversation with SEIU Official on November 12, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH informed SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted persons other than Senate Candidate 1 to be considered for the Senate seat. SEIU Official stated that he would find out if Senate Candidate 1 wanted SEIU Official to keep pushing her for Senator with ROD BLAGOJEVICH. ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that “one thing I’d be interested in” is a 501(c)(4) organization. ROD BLAGOJEVICH explained the 501(c)(4) idea to SEIU Official and said that the 501(c)(4)70 could help “our new Senator [Senate Candidate 1].” SEIU Official agreed to “put that flag up and see where it goes.”
Ben Smith reported that the SEIU official is Andy Stern.
It is not clear that the SEIU official did anything illegal in this matter, but his openness to Blagojevich’s request for a bribe certainly does not speak well of him. At the very least, this person is amenable to facilitating high-level bribery. If it is indeed Stern, the SEIU must replace its leadership.
UPDATE: RNC Chair candidate Katon Dawson also wants Obama to clear the air.