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John F. Harris
Blagojevich's secret talks with Tribune Co.
Blagojevich's secret talks with Tribune Co.

Early on a Sunday evening in December, e-mails went out among state officials who had just learned that financially strapped Tribune Co. was about to file for bankruptcy protection. "This could measurably complicate Project Elwood," wrote William Brandt, chairman of the Illinois Finance Authority. Project Elwood—an apparent reference to a "Blues Brothers" character—was code for secret negotiations between former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration and Tribune Co. for the state to buy Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Two days later, the plan grew far more complicated when Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges. Among the...