On Tuesday evening, St. Louis’ KMOV TV station (Channel 4) added an ironic fillip to their coverage of the Blagojevich arrest. In the last two minutes of this newscast (starting at about 4:45), Ed Martin, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt’s former chief of staff and best crony, comments on a meeting with Blagojevich and other Illinois officials. The assembled notables were attempting to negotiate the construction of the new Mississippi bridge to be built jointly by Illinois and Missouri.
At this “secret” meeting (fitting given Martin’s well-known predilection for keeping government under wraps), Martin describes a “strange negotiation” where he just couldn’t figure out what Blagojevich wanted. Is Martin implying that Blagojevich expected a bribe of some sort? Hind-sight and all? He certainly seems bemused by the possibility.
It would be ironic if so, since the biggest obstacles to this agreement came from Missouri’s intransigence. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put it:
The primary stumbling block was overcome last spring, when Missouri officials dropped their insistence on tolls as a way to finance the project. They had pushed to privatize the bridge by selling the rights to build, operate and maintain it up to 99 years. The buyer would have collected tolls to recover its costs and turn a profit.
But who would have thought that Martin was such a naif when it comes to the old quid pro quo? Certainly this rundown of Martin’s resume from the Kansas City Star’s Prime Buzz paints a picture of a political operator who lies, cheats and schemes with the best of them, a man who, as the Post-Dispatch observes:
As chief of staff … turned the office into a political operation, using his position to galvanize special-interest groups …
Who knew Martin was such a sensitive soul?