CHICAGO — One of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's top deputies resigned Wednesday after being tied to the rampant corruption scandal surrounding the governor, the first member of the governor's inner circle to fall amid the accusations.
Illinois Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee stepped down a day after Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges.
The complaint against Blagojevich identifies a "Deputy Governor A" who is deeply involved in an alleged scheme to strong-arm the Chicago Tribune on the orders of the governor and his wife. When asked if his client was the deputy governor, Greenlee's attorney did not dispute that his client is "Deputy Governor A."
David Stetler told The Associated Press the reason behind Greenlee's resignation "should be obvious."
He wouldn't say whether his client was cooperating with federal authorities in the probe.
"I just don't think it's responsible to comment on the substance of a pending investigation," Stetler said. "I'm not going to tell you whether he's cooperating or not."
Stetler said Greenlee was "focused on trying to do the right thing. That's what he's going to do."
Greenlee, 33, attended Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School before joining Illinois state government. He was hired by Blagojevich in June and oversaw the administration's policy and legislative affairs efforts.
A "deputy governor" is simply a high-ranking aide, much like a chief of staff. Deputy governors have no constitutional power and are entirely separate from the lieutenant governor, the state official who would replace Blagojevich if he leaves office.
The official identified as "Deputy Governor A" is listed numerous times in the complaint against Blagojevich.
Prosecutors allege Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, were angry with Tribune editorials that called for the governor's impeachment and wanted the writers fired. Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, had at the time been seeking assistance from the state related to its sale of the baseball properties.
Court papers indicate Patti Blagojevich can be heard on federal wiretaps telling her husband to order that state financing for a Wrigley Field deal be held up until the Tribune complied with their wishes.
The official later told Blagojevich that the owner of the Tribune _ Sam Zell _ "will say that he does not have anything to do with the editorials, but I would tell him, 'look, if you want to get your Cubs thing done get rid of this Tribune,'" according to the complaint.
The deputy governor also discussed the vacancy of Barack Obama's Senate seat with Blagojevich the day before the presidential election. Blagojevich told the deputy governor that if "they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it."
According to the complaint, the deputy governor suggested putting together a list of things that Blagojevich would accept in exchange for the Senate seat. Blagojevich said the list "can't be in writing," the complaint says.
After the election, the deputy governor spoke with Blagojevich about positions he might be "able to obtain in exchange for the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat." The two discussed potential jobs such as Secretary of Health and Human Services and various ambassadorships.
The deputy governor told Blagojevich the Cabinet position of energy secretary is "the one that makes the most money." But Deputy Governor A said it was hard not to give the position to a "Texan," but Blagojevich's coal background might be a possibility, according to the complaint.
Associated Press Writer Deanna Bellandi contributed to this report.