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10 Dec, 2008 19:41

For sale: one Senate seat

Public outrage in the US is growing over a corruption scandal in the state of Illinois. The state governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested amid claims he was trying to sell the seat in the Senate left vacant after Barack Obama was elected president.

Under state law the Governor has the authority to appoint a replacement.

Obama has called for the governor to resign, but Blagojevich denies any wrongdoing and has ignored calls for his resignation.

Democrat Rod Blagojevich has since been freed on bail and has returned to work.

The FBI says it has wiretaps of governor’s conversations suggesting he planned to make money from selling Obama's former seat in Congress.

He did not have much to say to the media about the allegations.

“If anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead, feel free to do it, I appreciate anybody who wants to tape me openly and notoriously,” he commented.

US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the governor’s behaviour ‘appalling’ and ‘cynical’. Speaking to the media, he quoted Blagojevich as saying “It's a bleeping valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing” and “I've got this thing and it’s bleeping golden”.

In an interview published in the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, Obama said: “I have not discussed the Senate seat with the governor at any time”.

But he wouldn't answer a question on whether he was aware of any conversations between the governor and his top aides, including incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. 

“It's an ongoing investigation”, said Obama.