Rod Blagojevich Testimony Continues into Third Day; He Denies Se - FOX 32 News Chicago

Rod Blagojevich Testimony Continues into Third Day; He Denies Senate Seat, Tollway, Hospital Charges

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Former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich took the stand for a third day of testimony at his corruption retrial, denying allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat, shook down road builder Gerald Krozel for campaign contributions in exchange for a Tollway project and shook down Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon.

Complete Rod Blagojevich Trial Coverage >>

Key Points:

  • Blagojevich started talking about the most explosive allegation against him -- that he tried to sell or trade Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich told jurors he had no intention of accepting campaign cash in exchange for the seat. He said supporters of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. promised to do "accelerated fundraising" for him if he appointed Jackson. Blagojevich says that didn't appeal to him and sounded improper. He says he had no intention of appointing Jackson with or without the offer of money.
  • Some audio problems Tuesday resulted in Blagojevich’s microphone cutting in and out. Blagojevich would turn to the jury and speak to them, saying “can you hear me?” The judge took a short break to fix it and Blagojevich said to the jury, “this isn’t my fault.” During the break, they found Blagojevich’s binder of transcripts was on the cord, and so when he came back in, he said to the jury, “Sorry, it was my fault.”
  • Blagojevich has been on the stand since last Thursday, focusing first on his life story, then turning to the five shakedowns he's charged with. Blagojevich on the stand has denied the Chicago Academy shakedown, the racetrack shakedown, the Tollway shakedown and, Tuesday afternoon, the Children's Memorial Hospital shakedown. The senate seat shakedown remains.
  • Juror 125 has been dismissed from the case for an unknown reason. She was a white female who worked as a computer technician for a junior college. She said during jury selection, despite the first trial, she had “no firm opinions” on how she thought this trial should go. The judge has also instructed court sketch artists to not draw detailed facial features on their sketches of the jury.
  • Friday, Blagojevich told the jury why he waited to sign racetrack legislation that was costing Johnston $9,000 a day, blaming House Speaker Mike Madigan for “shenanigans” he had to avoid and saying his friend, Chris Kelly, was trying to manipulate the bill signing to get a president pardon. The testimony was confusing, but presented an interpretation of events that contradicts the government’s charges.
  • Blagojevich’s testimony has been narrative and prone to tangents, prompting admonishment from the trial judge. The former governor has name-dropped at every opportunity, from celebrities he spotted when going to law school in Malibu, to a who’s-who of historical figures (Blagojevich said he had a “mancrush on Alexander Hamilton) to a wide variety of active politicians. 

 

UPDATE:   5:10 p.m. 
Blagojevich testified that his definition of "f’ing golden" is “good things for the people of Illinois,” something he says Harris told him he could get if he appointed Valerie Jarrett to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Court then adjourned for the day, and the jury left the courtroom. At that point, the attorneys went over issues with Judge Zagel.

The prosecution argued that Blagojevich is trying to argue an "advice of counsel" defense, and that it’s a case of politics as usual (i.e., horse trading). They said that neither defense applies here.

Judge Zagel says he will instruct the jury that this is not an “advice of counsel” case, that the defense is not entitled to argue that he wasn’t properly advised.

Zagel says he will have to give the jury instruction about the "politics as usual” defense unless the defense can call an expert witness on it.

Judge Zagel says if the defendant keeps talking about issues the judge has told him not to, it makes the case more complicated because it causes the judge to give more instructions to the jury, possibly confusing them. Zagel warned the defense not to continue this practice. He said he believes this keeps happening intentionally.

Zagel also says the defense can’t make an argument for, "no one stopped me, so I thought it was legal” (i.e., his advisors didn’t tell him not to do certain things).

Court will be back in session on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for Day Four of Blagojevich testimony on the stand.

 

UPDATE:   4:52 p.m. 
Based on what his brother told him, Blagojevich testified that he understood that Jackson Jr. would raise $500,000 for Blagojevich, and Nayak would raise $1 million for Blagojevich if Blagojevich appointed Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat.

On Oct. 31, 2008, Blagojevich says he was not going to appoint Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat, that he was considering himself, Lisa Madigan, Emil Jones, Danny Davis and Luis Gutierrez.

Goldstein showed Blagojevich a copy of his schedule from Oct. 31, 2008. Blagojevich said he sees the India House luncheon on the list.

Blagojevich says he was opposed to this offer and had no intention of appointing Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat -- with or without this offer.

Goldstein asked Blagojevich what his relationship with Jackson Jr. was like in Oct. 2008. Blagojevich says it was all right at that time but says Jackson Jr. had some qualities that he thought "weren’t that great.” Blagojevich says it goes way beyond Jackson Jr. not supporting him for governor.

Goldstein then changed the topic.

The defense then asked Blagojevich about a recorded call from Nov. 3, 2008 at 8:35 a.m., between Blagojevich and Harris.

In the call, Blagojevich says Harris mentioned preparing some remarks for Blagojevich regarding how Blagojevich would go about filling the Senate seat.

Blagojevich says the final process they came up with included some input from Denny Hastert. He said Denny told Blagojevich, "no matter the process, the decision is yours."

Blagojevich went over the research they did regarding the necessary qualifications to be appointed to U.S. Senator for Illinois.

In the Nov. 3 call, Blagojevich says Harris told Blagojevich how Rahm Emanuel wanted Valerie Jarrett appointed to the Senate seat. He says Emanuel called Harris the day before (Nov. 2) to let him know about Jarrett.

Blagojevich testified that he never got a call from David Axelrod about appointing Jarrett to the Senate seat.

Blagojevich says he understood Harris to be telling him that Obama had an interest in seeing Jarrett appointed to the Senate seat, based on the call Harris received from Emanuel.

Blagojevich said he then asked Harris for his opinion on if there’s a legal horse trade they can do if they appoint Jarrett to the seat. Blagojevich says all of it is predicated on the trade being legal.

Blagojevich says he understood Harris to tell him there would have to be more discussions with the Obama Administration to see what could be traded.

Blagojevich says he then mentioned to Harris the possibility of being appointed to the Health and Human Services cabinet seat. Blagojevich says he wanted the seat because of how he was shaped by his life experiences -- including his 12-year-old cousin who died of leukemia.

Judge Zagel again stopped Blagojevich, saying he's rambling and not answering the question.

UPDATE:   4:36 p.m. 
In exchange for appointing Lisa Madigan to Obama’s vacant Senate seat, Blagojevich says he expected Mike Madigan to push the capitoll bill through.

Blagojevich says he came up with the idea for the Madigan deal.

Blagojevich says he considered Emil Jones a potential candidate for the Senate seat because they had a good working relationship despite what happened with the ethics bill. He helped Blagojevich pass All Kids healthcare. Blagojevich also says Jones privately told him that Jones wanted to be a Senator and how he could he helpful to Blagojevich if appointed.

Blagojevich says Danny Davis was a possible candidate because he wanted to pick an African-American federal lawmaker. He thought he would be a good replacement for an African-American Senator.

Blagojevich says he got the idea to appoint an African-American war hero, and testified he wanted an African-American Tammy Duckworth.

Up until the time he was arrested, Blagojevich testified that he considered several possible candidates for the Senate seat.

Goldstein then asked Blagojevich about a trip he had to Northwestern University in Oct. 2008. Harris was with Blagojevich on this trip. Blagojevich says he doesn’t recall talking to Harris about the Senate seat on the ride to Northwestern. (Earlier in the retrial, Harris testified that they did discuss this on the way to the university.)

Blagojevich says he talked to Quinlan almost every day about the Senate seat -- several conversations dealt with a 501©4 being set up.

Blagojevich says there was only one conversation in which his advisors told him not to consider the 501©4, and that they encouraged him to talk about it in other conversations later on.

Goldstein prepared to play a few recorded conversations.

The first call is from Oct. 28, 2008, at 4:01 p.m., between Blagojevich and his brother Robert.

In the call, Blagojevich says his brother told him that Rajinder Bedi told him that Raghuveer Nayak would do accelerated fundraising for Blagojevich if he appointed Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat.

Blagojevich says he wasn’t interested in making the Senate seat appointment in exchange for campaign fundraising. He testified that he knew he'd never appoint Jackson Jr. to the seat.

On Oct. 28, Blagojevich says he was considering himself, Emil Jones, Danny Davis and an African-American war hero.

From Oct. 28 -30, Blagojevich says those were the people he was considering for the Senate seat and he had not made any decisions at that time.

The defense then asked Blagojevich about a call from Oct. 31 at 5:14 p.m. between Blagojevich and Greenlee.

In this call, Blagojevich says he told Greenlee that even before Obama was elected, Jackson Jr. was already having his people call Blagojevich's house. He told Greenlee it was unbelievable and over the top.

 

UPDATE:   4:18 p.m. 
Blagojevich testified that Quinlan worked for him until "it all came tumbling down.” He says Quinlan worked for Madigan before coming to work for him. Quinlan was one of the top 40 under 40 lawyers.

Blagojevich explained more about why he had Harris as an advisor. One reason, he said, was that Harris was a top advisor to Mayor Daley, and since he was a former navy prosecutor he knew the political dynamics in Illinois.

Blagojevich testified that he also consulted or sought advice from Bob Greenlee. Blagojevich says he created the role of deputy governor so he could work closely with Blagojevich and deal with policy issues.

Judge Zagel stopped Blagojevich from talking about Greenlee's background, because Blagojevich is reciting a resume.

When Goldstein asked Blagojevich who else he consulted with, Blagojevich said he always said, "Good government is good politics, and good politics is good government and...”

Zagel again stops Blagojevich from rambling, telling him to answer the question.

Blagojevich says Bill Knapp was another one of his advisors. He testified that the pair met in late 2000/early 2001, when he was first running for governor. Blagojevich said Knapp was a close political advisor until the day he was arrested.

Blagojevich testified that Fred Yang was also a close political advisor, who worked as his pollster.

Blagojevich added that Doug Scofield was also a close advisor and friend, who advised him on politics, the media and some policy issues. Scofield is former chief staff for Congressman Luis Gutierrez.

Blagojevich says he trusted all of these advisors, trusted their judgment and sought it out to see if his judgment was flawed.

In addition to these advisors, Blagojevich says he also talked to Denny Hastert, Jerry Reinsdorf and Gerry Chico, two labor leaders, Mark Ganus (Cubs sports consultant), and that he even talked to Patti about it and a host of others about who to appoint to Obama’s Senate seat.

From mid-October to Dec. 9, 2008, Blagojevich testified that he had made no decisions about filling the Senate seat.

Blagojevich says he knew before the Summer of 2008 that he had the power to appoint a successor to Obama’s Senate seat, and that he had a few candidates in mind, including himself, Lisa Madigan, Emil Jones, Congressman Danny Davis and, “thinking outside the box,” someone who was an African-American war hero.

When considering appointing himself to the Senate seat, Blagojevich says he was never really comfortable with that idea, but in thinking about the political landscape in Chicago, he felt if he didn’t appoint Lisa Madigan, the political gridlock would get worse.

Goldstein tried to ask Blagojevich about his relationship with Lisa Madigan. Blagojevich says she was the daughter of his nemesis, and that mike Madigan did a good job raising kids in a political environment.

Judge Zagel said his answer is not appropriate. Blagojevich stopped, and said he's sorry.

 

UPDATE:   4:00 p.m. 
Goldstein began asking Blagojevich about the charge that he was trying to sell Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

Blagojevich says he's read all the tape transcripts regarding him, and he says it’s fair to say he talks a lot then and now.

From Oct. 2008 until his arrest in Dec. 2009, Blagojevich says he talked about the Senate seat a lot.
Blagojevich testified that he made a lot of phone calls from home because of budget cuts, and modeled his business practice after what President Richard Nixon did.

Blagojevich says he was hunkering down at home to be away from all the men and women who wanted money for their different initiatives, because he was cutting the budget and he didn’t want to give in if he talked to them. He also says it was a campaign season, and wanted to use that time to be more active in fundraising because of circumstances that had accrued over the year. He testified that he had asked his brother, a novice fundraiser, to help out, so Blagojevich wanted to be more involved.

Blagojevich testified that he was more productive working at home in these areas.

When the prosecution starts to object, Blagojevich said, “I knew that was going to happen.”

Blagojevich goes on to say he wanted to work from home because it was good to be away from the office when he had to make big decision. He says deciding who to appoint to the Obama Senate seat was a big decision with little history to look to for guidance. "This decision was the last opportunity to make the best decision," he testified. He said he had a hard time making this decision. He said he believed he was on the right track and then everything changed.

When making big decisions, Blagojevich testified that he'd consult with John Harris. Blagojevich defended why he called Harris the "Prince of Darkness.” He said he was more conventional-thinking than others. Blagojevich says he's always consulted with Bill Quinlan, his general counsel, and that no important decisions were made without talking to Quinlan.

“In so many ways Bill Quinlan was indispensible," Blagojevich said.

UPDATE:   3:37 p.m. 
In the call, Blagojevich mentions he recalls seeing Chicago Tribune reporter John Chase outside his Friend of Blagojevich offices on Oct. 22, 2008.

On the stand, Blagojevich says he remembers seeing Wyma sitting at the Oct. 22 fundraising meeting at the FOB offices with a "blank stare" on his face and wondering, in retrospect, if Wyma was wearing a wire.

In the Dec. 4, 2008 call, Blagojevich says he wonders out loud to Quinlan if he said anything wrong at the Oct. 22 meeting – because Quinlan was his general counsel. Blagojevich says he continued to recount parts of this meeting for Quinlan to see if he said anything wrong.

Blagojevich says he hadn’t spoken to Magoon since Oct. 17, 2008.

He says he learned the rate increase was held up after he was arrested and he called Barry Maram to make the rate increase to go through. He says he was shocked it had not gone through.

Blagojevich says he did not threaten Magoon with the rate increase if he didn’t fundraise for him. He also said he didn’t intend to do any harm to Children’s Memorial Hospital at this time during 2008.

 

UPDATE:   3:34 p.m. 
Court is back in session after a short break.

Goldstein asked Blagojevich about a phone call Blagojevich had with Greenlee around Thanksgiving when they discussed John Wyma being fired as a lobbyist from Children’s Memorial Hospital. He asked if Blagojevich told Greenlee to hold up the rate increase. Blagojevich testified that he did not tell Greenlee to hold up the rate increase.

Goldstein asked Blagojevich about phone with his brother from Nov. 14, 2008 at 6:25 p.m.

In the call, Blagojevich says his brother told him Wyma had been fired from his lobbyist at Children’s. Blagojevich says his brother said something to the effect of calling Magoon three times and that Blagojevich should now give Magoon a call. Blagojevich says he told his brother not to call him, and he didn’t call Magoon.

Blagojevich says he didn’t call Magoon about campaign fundraising because the rate increase was still pending with the legislature and he didn’t feel right about calling him under that circumstance. He says he didn’t want Magoon to feel uneasy about the governor calling him about fundraising.

Blagojevich says right up until the day of his arrest, he still believed the rate increase was going to happen.

Then Goldstein asked Blagojevich about a phone call on the night of Dec. 4, 2008 with William Quinlan and Lucio Guerrro. Blagojevich testified that they talked about a call Lucio received from a Chicago Tribune reporter that Blagojevich's friend has been wearing a wire. Blagojevich testified that learning this news was "startling and shocking and terrifying." He said that he was still feeling those emotions in the call recorded between them.

 

UPDATE:   3:00 p.m. 
Blagojevich says he did not call Magoon after the Nov. 12 call.

The defense asked Blagojevich about a call between the Blagojevich brothers on Nov. 13, 2008.

Blagojevich says he mistakenly refers to Magoon as "Mr. Magoo,” the cartoon character, and that was "stupid of him.”

Blagojevich says the rate increase was still a done deal at this time and he did not talk about holding it up. He said he believed it was going to happen on Jan. 1, 2009, or slightly thereafter.

The defense is about to change topics. Court then went on a short break.

 

UPDATE:   2:56 p.m. 
In the call Robert Blagojevich says he's going to stop calling Patrick Magoon because he's called him three times already and hasn’t heard back from him and that Robert feels stupid because his call hasn’t been returned.

In the call, Rod Blagojevich is says, “I’ll call him.” Blagojevich says that sometimes as a leader, you need to do what others are doing and get in the trenches. He said he'd call Magoon to make his brother feel a little less lonely. Blagojevich says he may have meant to call Magoon pending some information he wanted some clarification on.

Goldstein asked Blagojevich about a call from Nov. 12, 2008, at 2:14 p.m. between Blagojevich and former Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee.

In the call, Blagojevich asks Greenlee if they can pull back on the pediatric rate increase due to budget concerns. Blagojevich says he needed to know this information so he could decide whether or not to call Magoon, like he told his brother he'd do a few hours earlier.

Based on what Greenlee told him, Blagojevich says he said, "good to know," because he didn’t want Magoon to feel uncomfortable if he called Magoon for a donation while this issue was still up in the air and that he didn’t want to make a fundraising call at all.

UPDATE:   2:51 p.m. 
The defense turned to asking Blagojevich about an Oct. 8, 2008 fundraising meeting, showing him a chart of potential donors.

Blagojevich testified he, Robert Blagojevich and John Wyma were at the meeting. The handwriting on the chart was Wyma’s, Blagojevich testified. The list of handwritten names were past supporters or donors who were not currently listed or were connections of Wyma’s.

Blagojevich started to tell a story about one of names on the list, but judge told him to stop as it was not an appropriate answer. Blagojevich said he was sorry to the judge and then asked, “Can I say great minds think alike?” The court laughed.

Blagojevich mentioned Magoon’s name was part of the handwritten list. Magoon was discussed during the Oct. 8 meeting, Blagojevich testified, because he had been on the phone with Magoon a few weeks before and thought they might be able to ask him to do a fundraiser. Blagojevich testified he was aware Magoon had just had a fundraiser for State Sen. John Cullerton.

Blagojevich testified he wasn’t expected the hospital to donate because legally they couldn’t, but he was hoping Magoon would reach out to wealthy people he knew or boards that make donations.

After he meeting, Blagojevich testified, it was Wyma’s assignment to contact Magoon about helping to fundraise.

The defense turned to an Oct. 22, 2008 fundraising meeting that followed up on the Oct. 8 meeting. Blagojevich testified his brother asked Wyma for a progress report on Magoon and Wyma said he hadn’t talked to him.

The group discussed whether Blagojevich should call Magoon, Blagojevich testified, but he didn’t want Magoon to feel uncomfortable since the pediatric rate increase had just been approved. Blagojevich said he preferred Wyma make the call, but Wyma didn’t want to, so he suggested Robert Blagojevich do it.

Blagojevich testified he understood Robert was going to ask Magoon to donate before the end of the year and the pediatric rate increase was a done deal regardless of fundraising Magoon did.

 

UPDATE:   2:35 p.m. 
After returning from sidebar, the judge told the defense to pick up questioning with Blagojevich with events of Oct. 17, 2008, but said they could not play recorded conversations until after they discussed the events.

Blagojevich testified he had a good relationship with Children’s Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon and was always supportive of the hospital. Blagojevich testified Magoon had contributed to his campaign in the past and had attended fundraising events organized by John Wyma. Blagojevich said he was aware that Magoon had just finished doing some fundraising for State Sen. John Cullerton.

Blagojevich testified on Oct. 17, he told Magoon the “good news” that Bob Greenlee had found the money to do the pediatric rate increase and Magoon was happy to hear it.

He added he was “very clear” to Magoon to be quiet about the rate increase because Blagojevich said he was making an exception for them, given all the budget cuts he was making, and didn’t want to be approached by others for more exceptions.

Blagojevich testified he made himself unavailable to other groups because he didn’t want to be approached about making this exception for fear he might cave and make other exceptions. He made the exception for Children’s because, he said, “It’s a very personal place for me. I had a cousin who died there when he was 12 years old.”

The judge told the defense to move on from the line of questioning.

Blagojevich testified he immediately called Magoon after getting off the phone with Dusty Baker in Sept. 2008 and told Magoon he didn’t need to have Baker call him. Blagojevich said he was there to help the hospital, and after Magoon told him about the rate increase, he asked Magoon to send something writing.

Blagojevich told Greenlee to get started on the issue, and Greenlee said to be careful about making an exception for Children’s. Blagojevcih testified he told Greenlee he didn’t care and to “go find the money.”

A few weeks later, Blagojevich said, Greenlee called to say they’d found a way to fund the rate increase and it wouldn’t happen until after the first of the year. Blagoejevich testified he believed the rate increase was a done deal and was happy to call Magoon with the “good news.”

Blagojevich testified Greenlee knew he wanted something done and knew to get it done. Blagojevich also testified he never told Greenlee “good to know,” contradicting Greenlee’s testimony that Blagojevich asked him if it was possible to pull back on the increase due to budget concerns. Greenlee said Blagojevich said “good to know” when he told Blagojevich it was possible.

 

UPDATE:   2:11 p.m. 
Court resumed from lunch with the defense asking Blagojevich about Children’s Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon and the alleged hospital shakedown.

Blagojevich testified he never threatened or shook down Magoon for a campaign fundraiser and never authorized anyone else to do so. He said he never held up the pediatric rate increase in exchange for a campaign contribution.

When asked how he knew about Children’s Memorial Hospital, Blagojevich started to say Oct. 14, 1967, but the prosecution objected and the judge sustained. Blagojevich cut to the case and said his cousin Eli died there.

Based on his life experiences, Blagojevich testified he cares very deeply about healthcare and that those experiences shaped the policies and other actions he took as governor.

Blagojevich testified in summer 2008, he had a “general understanding” regarding how the state paid doctors who treated pediatric Medicaid patients, but he said he became aware of the issue when he got a call in Sept. 2008 from former Cubs Manager Dusty Baker, who was then the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.

Blagojevich said when he was running for governor in 2006, Baker approached him for a donation to Children’s Memorial Hospital, where Baker was a board member.

When Baker called in Sept. 2008, Blagojevich testified, Baker asked him to talk to Magoon about the rate increase. Blagojevich testified Illinois had a budget deficit at the time of about $2.5 million.

The defense began asking Blagojevich about what he did with the state budget, but the prosecution objected to the line of questioning and the judge called attorneys into a sidebar conference.

 

UPDATE:   12:39 p.m. 
The defense then questioned Blagojevich about his conviction from the first trial of lying to the FBI. Blagojevich confirmed the conviction and said he hadn’t been sentenced; Zagel will be sentencing him.

Blagojevich testified his wife, Patti, was trying to find work in 2008 because she was looking for something different. Patti had taken her Series 7 licensing test and passed it, licensing her to sell “different financial instruments.” Patti also passed her Series 66 test, Blagojevich testified, and didn’t ask Blagojevich to find her a job.

Blagojevich testified he was concerned about Patti’s new jobs selling financial instruments and asked John Harris to help her navigate the new job field so she wouldn’t be with a company that received state money. Blagojevich testified he wanted to avoid conflicts of interest and had issued an executive order that prohibited his family from being involved in such work.

Blagojevich testified he asked Harris to set up the meetings because Harris knew the field better and Patti had to be with a firm that had no intersection with his administration.

After Patti met with someone Harris had recommended and was told there wasn’t a job for her, Blagojevich testified he met with Tom Balanoff because Patti said there might be some work she could do regarding unions and pension funds.

Blagojevich testified he never told Harris to hold up anything for Citibank, and that Citibank actually got more work, including a Tollway bond project, after Patti’s meeting with their representative.

Blagojevich testified he did talk to Harris about appointing Patti to the Illinois Pollution Control Board, saying he thought it might be good for her given her interest in the environment. Blagojevich testified he wanted to know how Harris thought it would look. Blagojevich said he was testing his instinct with Harris and both of them thought it wasn’t a good idea.

Harris also told Blagojevich that there were legal qualifications to be appointed to the board, and Patti didn’t have the qualifications.

Blagojevcih testified they threw out the idea because he didn’t like close family members working in his administration, and Patti never worked for Citibank either.

Court then broke for lunch.

 

UPDATE:   12:31 p.m. 
Blagojevich testified he was working with Denny Hastert to try to get the capital bill passed, which was necessary because of Madigan blocking it. Blagojevich testified he didn’t get a “good sense” that Krozel was going to raise the money for him when, a month after their meeting, Krozel told Blagojevich he was still working on it.

After Oct. 22, 2008, Blagojevich testified he recalled Monk was still communicating with Krozel about raising fund, and from then until Dec. 9, 2008, Blagojevich had no phone contact with Krozel.

Blagojevich testified as of Dec. 6, 2008, he wasn’t counting on Krozel to raise money based on a phone conversation with his brother in which Robert Blagojevich said Krozel was “down fro zero.” Blagojevich said he didn’t call Krozel or have Monk talk to him after Dec. 6, and said that information didn’t affect whether or not Blagojevich took any state action on Tollway plans.

As of Dec. 9, Blagojevich testified the Tollway plans were moving forward.

 

UPDATE:   12:15 p.m. 
Blagojevich testified when he asked Krozel for campaign money, he was asking Krozel to ask the road building community to raise money for Blagojevich as Krozel had done in the past.

The former governor met with the two presidents of Prairie Construction for 90 minutes Sept. 24, 2080 at a Willow Springs restaurant. Blagojevich testified he sang Krozel’s praises to his new boss, and they talked about the economy, the Dixon plant closing and did not talk fundraising.

Blagojevich testified he met John Wyma on Oct. 6, 2008 because Wyma asked to meet on behalf of a client about British Petroleum. Blagojevich testified they met alone and it wasn’t a fundraising meeting.

Blagojevich testified he did not tell Wyma if the road builders did not perform, “F*** ‘em.” Blagojevich said there was no reason for him to talk to Wyma about Krozel and he had “no recollection whatsoever” about talking to Wyma about Krozel.

Blagojevich testified he was not trying to connect the Tollway plans with his fundraising efforts, and said he did not tell Monk if Krozel didn’t fundraise, “F*** him.”

Blagojevich testified he never told Monk to connect fundraising with state action.

 

UPDATE:   11:52 a.m. 
After a short break, the defense told the judge that prosecutors were “making faces” in reaction to Blagojevich’s testimony and whispering, and that the jury could see both. The prosecution said that was the first they were hearing of any concern and that it wasn’t the case. The prosecution said they do whisper to each other often to communicate with each other.

Judge James Zagel said he hadn’t seen anything of the sort, but he said he would watch the prosecution carefully.

 

UPDATE:   11:39 a.m. 
Blagojevich testified he first met Gerald Krozel in 2000 and that Krozel gave him a large contribution in his first bid for governor. Krozel was a friend of Blagojevich’s father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell (33rd)

Blagojevich said Krozel was a consistent supporter and “very helpful” to his campaign every year.

Blagojevich testified he didn’t know Krozel’s official job title at Prairie Contstruction, but said Korzel was politically active in fundraising for candidates of both parties.

Blagojevich testified he, Krozel and his brother, Robert, met Sept. 18, 2008 for about 75 minutes to ask Krozel to help raise money by the end of 2008. Blagojevich said he also wanted Krozel’s feedback on how to get the capital bill passed.

Blagojevich testified the goal of the meeting was not to shake down Krozel. Blagojevich said he probably arrived late to the meeting, apologized, asked to Krozel to sit in the “best seat in the house” (the couch) and offered him a drink. He said the meeting started with him asking about Krozel’s wife’s health, something they’d talked about before.

Blagojevich then asked Krozel how business was, he testified, knowing times were tough for the roadbuilders. He testified he was upset to hear Krozel say they were about to close a plant in Dixon, Ill., eliminating about 200 jobs.

At the meeting, Blagojevich then told Krozel about the $1.8 billion Tollway plan and asked if it would help save some jobs, he testified. Krozel said every bit helped.

Blagojevich testified Krozel was interested in helping get the capital bill passed when he mentioned it. They also talked about the State Senate president race, since Senate President Emil Jones, a major Blagojevich ally, had announced he was leaving. Blagojevich testified he asked Krozel to support the opponent of John Cullerton, who was a major Madigan ally.

After the senate president discussion, Blagojevich testified he mentioned the ethics bill to Krozel and how it would prohibit Blagojevich from getting money from Krozel’s industry. Blagojevich testified he felt it was “incumbent upon him” to let Krozel know the law was changing and that donations before Dec. 31, 2008 would be helpful and appreciated.

Blagojevich testified he asked Krozel for the money nicely and Krozel indicated he would do what he could to help. They then talked about Blagojevich meeting the new owners of Prairie Construction, and Blagojevich testified he told Krozel he would meet with the new bosses if it would help Krozel look good.

Blagojevich testified he did not tell Krozel he would announce the mid-range $5.9 billion Tollway project in Jan. 2009 and that he didn’t threaten or demand Krozel fundraise for him in exchange for the bill. Blagojevich testified he talked to Krozel about these types of projects because he represented the roadbuilding industry and Krozel had to help him get the capital bill passed.

Blagojevich testified the meeting ended in a friendly way, and either Robert Blagojevich or Monk would get back to Krozel about raising the money.

 

UPDATE:   11:08 a.m. 
The defense turned its questioning to the alleged Tollway shakedown. Blagojevich testified he did not shake down, demand or threaten Gerald Krozel for a campaign contribution and did not say he would approve the Tollway projects in exchange for a donation.

Blagojevich testified he became aware of potential Tollway expansion projects when the Illinois Tollway Authority presented them to him. He was told about three to four different plans, Blagojevich testified, and was against a middle project (costing $7 billion) because it would increase tolls for Illinois drivers and would need legislative approval. Blagojevich testified he didn’t want to approve that one because he wanted to keep pressure on Madigan to approve the capital bill, which would mean improvements for all of Illinois and not just the Tollway.

Blagojevich testified he liked the $1.8 billion plan because it wouldn’t increase tolls and would create carpool lanes. Blagojevich said he also liked that it wouldn’t undermine the pressure he was trying to build to pass the capital bill. Blagojevich testified he eventually signed this plan because it was something he wanted to do.

Blagojevich testified his desire to have the capital bill pass affected how he dealt with Tollway bills.

The defense played a recorded call from 3:07 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2008 between Blagojevich and John Harris.

Blagojevich said to his attorney, “You had to pick another one with me swearing. I’m sorry about that language,” which drew laughter from the court room.

In the call, Blagojevich and Harris discuss how the president of the DuPage County Board wanted an access road built to O’Hare, and Harris told the board president the appropriate way to build it was through the capital bill.

Blagojevich tried to explain to the jury how politics works, but the judge warned him to answer the questions only and not pontificate. 

"You have to answer his questions. I understand that, given your background, you'd like to give us a lesson in how politics works, but just answer the questions," Judge James Zagel said.

Blagojevich testified he didn’t want to go forward with the access road because it might take away “some of the hunger” for the capital bill. Blagojevich testified that in the call, when he said “absolutely not,” he was telling Harris to get the DuPage president to work for the capital bill getting passed. Blagojevich testified the president was a prominent figure, and he wanted his support for the capital bill. Blagojevich testified he also wanted Daley’s support.

Blagojevich testified the capital bill passed the State Senate twice, but Madigan never called it for a vote in the State House.

 

UPDATE:   10:25 a.m. 
Blagojevich returned to the witness stand and defense attorney Aaron Goldstein continued questioning him about the racetrack bill.

Goldstein asked Blagojevich about a recorded phone call from 2:13 p.m. on Dec. 3, 2008 . In the call, Lon Monk says to Blagojevich he wants to tell racetrack owner John Johnston to “give us the f***in' money. Because they're losin', they're losing 9,000 a day.”

Blagojevich testified he understood Monk to be giving the company line for Blagojevich to sign the bill, and Blagojevich understood Johnston wasn’t losing $9,000 a day, but Monk was doing his job as a lobbyist by saying it was costing that much.

Blagojevich testified the call was the first time he heard Johnston was losing $9,000 a day for each day the bill went unsigned.

The defense introduced into evidence a document that recapped the history of the racetrack bill. Blagojevich testified there was certain language that Mike Madigan wanted in the bill, and Blagojevich said there was language he wanted in another bill that dealt with autism and was very important to him.

The defense turned to a phone call from 12:53 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2008 between Blagojevich and John Harris. Blagojevich testified he was always for the bill, and at that time, he had a plan on how to deal with all unsigned bills he was facing.

Blagojevich confirmed he told Harris that he told Monk he wasn’t going to do anything about the bill for awhile because he hadn’t seen it and wanted to make sure there wasn’t any hidden language in that would cause him to take the bill in another direction.

Blagojevich testified he was planning on signing the bill, but told Monk he wanted to sort through it with other unsigned legislation to search for hidden language. Blagojevich also said he was looking at the bill as part of his “rewrite to do right” campaign, in which he would amendatorily veto a bill to rewrite part of it to “do right by the people.”

Blagojevich testified he had a “perception” problem regarding the signing of the racetrack bill, since a news story had mentioned the Johnstons had contributed over $200,000 to him over the years. Blagojevich said he was “stung” by that report and became concerned about the timing of when he would sign the bill based on Monk saying Johnston’s contribution was imminent.

Blagojevich testified he learned the bill passed Nov. 26, 2008, Thanksgiving was the next day and he got a call from Chris Kelly that night (the subject of Friday’s testimony). Blagojevich testified he flew to Philadelphia Dec. 1, 2008 for a governor’s conference, and he had no contact with Johnston or Kelly between Dec. 4 and Dec. 9, 2008.

The judge again warned Blagojevich to give more concise answers.

 

UPDATE:   9:27 a.m. 
Blagojevich walked in to the Dirksen Federal Building with his wife, Patti. Blagojevich was asked by a reporter what he did for Memorial Day, he gave no answer

 


Rod Blagojevich Scandal: More Key Players

Visit the "Who's Who" page to learn more about the former Illinois governor , his co-defendants, inner circle, the legal team and what people like President Obama , Sen. Dick Durbin and other high-profile people have to do with the case. >>

 


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