Former Rod Blagojevich Fundraiser, Staffer Testify at Retrial - FOX 32 News Chicago

Former Rod Blagojevich Fundraiser, Staffer Testify at Retrial


What former Gov. Rod Blagojevich could potentially get for appointing Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate was the focus of testimony Wednesday from a former Blagojevich fundraiser and a former deputy governor.

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Key Points :

  • Tuesday, Rajinder Bedi, a former Blagojevich fundraiser from the Indian community, testified another Indian businessman offered to raise over $1 million if Blagojevich appointed Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate.
  • After Bedi finished testifying, the prosecution called Bob Greenlee, a former deputy governor for Blagojevich. Greenlee testified about the negotiations over the Medicaid rate increase for pediatricians and other doctors, which Blagojevich allegedly used as a bargaining chip to get Childrens Memorial Hospital President Pat Magoon to donate money.
  • Judge James Zagel rejected a defense motion for a mistrial Wednesday morning.  The defense was arguing they could not do their jobs as they were not being allowed to ask meaningful questions in cross-examination.
  • Tuesday, the now-infamous “F---ing golden” audio recording was played for the jury as former Deputy Governor Doug Scofield testified that Blagojevich clearly wanted to trade the senate seat for a spot in the Obama administration or a high-paying position with a non-profit group.
  • At the end of the day Tuesday, IRS Agent Shari Schindler began testifying about Blagojevich’s finances, including the family’s credit card debt and the $400,000 they spent on clothes from 2002 to 2009.


UPDATE:  4:30 p.m.  
The prosecution played a call from Dec. 3, 2008, at 2:18 p.m. , during which Blagojevich asks Greenlee how many bills he has to act on following the legislative veto session. Greenlee says 30. Blagojevich says he wants to act on all of them at the same time. Greenlee testifies that there was no reason why Blagojevich couldn't sign those bills right away.

Court is adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Thursday.


UPDATE:  4:25 p.m.  
The prosecution is now asking Greenlee about the racetrack bill. Greenlee testifies that the first time he talked with Blagojevich about this was around Nov. 10, 2008; Blagojevich asked him to keep an eye on it and let him know if it was going forward.

They talked about it again on Nov. 20. The bill was on Blagojevich's desk by Nov. 26, 2008.


UPDATE:  4:22 p.m.  
The prosecution is playing a call between Blagojevich and Greenlee that was recorded on Nov. 12, 2008, at 8:34 a.m. The pediatric rate increase was not discussed.

Nine minutes later, at 8:43 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2008 , Rob tells Rod that he's called Magoon three times and has not heard back from him. Rob says he feels stupid now. Blagojevich said that he'll call Magoon.

At 2:14 p.m. on that same day , Blagojevich calls Greenlee to see if they can pull the rate increase back if they need to, and cites budget concerns. Greenlee says yes. In the past, Greenlee testifies, the Blagojevich administration never said no to a health care issue because of budget concerns. After this call, Greenlee tells Merriman to hold off.

Greenlee testifies that a few weeks later, he spoke to Blagojevich on the phone. Blagojevich says that CMH has fired Wyma. Greenlee said he understands this to mean that Blagojevich is not happy and that he should not go through with the rate increase.


UPDATE:  4:05 p.m.  
The prosecution is asking Greenlee about the alleged Children's Memorial Hospital shakedown. Greenlee said he talked with Wyma about CMH shortly after he took the Deputy Governor position; Wyma wanted to introduce him to a client: CMH.

Greenlee said he met with CMH President Pat Magoon at the Thompson Center in August or September of 2008.

At this meeting, Greenlee said Magoon talked about a rate increase for doctors who treat kids on Medicaid. Greenlee said it would cost the state $4 to $6 million to fund this rate increase, and that the feds would provide an equal amount. Greenlee asked a staffer named Barry Merriman to lay the groundwork for an increase that would take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

Greenlee told Blagojevich about the meeting in late September or early October, and said that it would cost $8 to $12 million. Blagojevich liked the idea, so Greelee told Merriman to move forward and also called Wyma to let him know too.

UPDATE:  4:00 p.m.  
The prosecution is playing a call from Dec. 4, 2008, at 2:57 p.m. , between Nayak and Rob Blagojevich, in which they make plans to meet for coffee someplace quiet.

Greenlee testifies that on Dec. 5, the Tribune ran a story about Wyma cooperating with the government and that Wyma had been wearing a wire.

Next, the prosecution plays a call from Dec. 4, 2008 at 10:29 p.m. between Rod and Patti Blagojevich and Lucio Guerro, on which they talk about the impending Tribune story. Blagojevich sounds stunned that there are recordings of him.

Then, the prosecution plays a tape from Dec. 5, 2008 at 7:25 a.m. , between Patti, Rod, Rob, and Quinlan. In this call, Rob says he is supposed to meet with Nayak that day; Blagojevich says he shouldn't.

The next call was recorded on Dec. 5, 2008, at 9:30 a.m. , between Rob and Nayak. They reschedule.

Then Blagojevich and Rob are heard on another call at 9:36 a.m. , on which Rob tells Rod that "the Ragu thing" is done.


UPDATE:  3:40 p.m.  
The prosecution is playing a call from Dec. 4, 2008 at 2:43 p.m. between Rod and Rob Blagojevich. In the call, Blagojevich tells his brother that he's elevating Jesse Jackson, Jr. to the Senate seat, and that the "establishment" is freaking out. Blagojevich adds that "if I'm so repugnant to them, then f*** you, take Jesse."

Blagojevich again mentions tangible support upfront, and how he's trying to get a story written in the Sun-Times how close they are to appointing Jackson. Blagojevich asks Rob to talk with Nayak, and tell him "if possible, we need to start seeing some of it now."

Rob says he'll make the call this afternoon, and Rod says to "talk with him in person."


UPDATE:  3:33 p.m.  
Court is back in session, and the prosecution is asking Greenlee about phone calls from Dec. 4, 2008 at 2:09 p.m. ; Dec. 4, 2008 at 2:36 p.m. ; and Dec. 4, 2008, 2:43 p.m.

The attorneys are now in a sidebar with the judge.


UPDATE:  3:03 p.m.  
Court is on a short break.


UPDATE:  2:58 p.m.  
The prosecution played a call from Dec. 4. 2008. In the call, Blagojevich tells Greenlee to be careful, because he doesn't know what he's talking about.


UPDATE:  2:47 p.m.  
The prosecution asked Greenlee about what Blagojevich meant by "tangible, concrete stuff from supporters." Greenlee said he understood Blagojevich to be talking about cash contributions, especially when he said "specific amounts," and that Blagojevich was promised some money upfront for appointing Jackson to the seat. Greenlee said the amount was over a million dollars, and that Greenlee believed that Jackson supporters would raise money for Blagojevich if Jackson got the seat.


UPDATE:  2:38 p.m.  
Later in the afternoon, Greenlee testified, he spoke with Blagojevich and Yang about a poll from Rasmussen that day that showed Jackson Jr. was the leading candidate to fill the seat.

In the call, from 2:09 p.m. on Dec. 4, 2008, they discuss whether to appoint Lisa Madigan or Jackson Jr. Blagojevich says the poll showed Madigan had almost no support among the black community, and Greenlee tells Blagojevich he can’t promise he’d stay if Blagojevich appointed Jackson Jr.

Blagojevich asks if they’re both drowning, who would they save? He talks about the political help he could get from Jackson Jr. and the political help he could get for appointing Jackson.

Greenlee and Yang raise concerns about Jackson Jr., saying Blagojevich knows exactly what he’ll get for appointing Madigan but Jackson Jr. has broken promises in the past.

Blagojevich tells them there are “tangible things that can happen before it all happens,” and “tangible, concrete tangible stuff from supporters.” He tells Yang that he knows “specific amounts and everything,” some of which are achievable “up front.”

Yang said that if he appoints Gery Chico to the Seat, Blagojevich will not be politically viable in 2010, and Blagojevich points out that Chico gets him nothing.

Again, if they were both drowning, Blagojevich said he'd save Jackson because he's "less repugnant." But Yang says they all agree that the "Jesse Option" only happens if Lisa Madigan doesn't work out. Blagojevich says the emissary should be "that horse's a**, Harry Reid."

Yang said they shouldn't play around; if Madigan is their number one draft pick, they should go after her. Blagojevich says he needs to know who's #2, #3, and #4. And Blagojevich points out that Jackson is the only one who wants the seat "desperately" and "is willing to offer stuff."


UPDATE:  2:32 p.m.  
On Dec. 4, 2008, Greenlee testified, he and Blagojevich discussed an energy summit in California they were going to and Blagojevich asked if Jackson Jr. could speak at the event.

The prosecution played a recorded phone call between Blagojevich and Fred Yang from that day at 11:17 a.m.

In the call, Blagojevich tells Yang that he thinks he should perhaps consider Jackson Jr. and that they’ve offered do fundraising for him.

Blagojevich discusses the option of appointing Lisa Madigan and James Meeks, but he also notes the downsides. Blagojevich tells Yang he’s having John Harris confirm with the Obama administration they’re okay with Jackson Jr., saying he thinks the administration put him on the list of acceptable choices because they knew Blagojevich really disliked him.

Blagojevich asks Yang to “figure out the politics of it” and they hang up.


UPDATE:  2:11 p.m.  
Court resumed after lunch break with the prosecution questioning Greenlee about a meeting Blagojevich had with Tom Balanoff.

Greenlee testified after the meeting, Blagojevich told him he had asked Balanoff for the Health and Human Services Secretary position in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate.

Greenlee said he learned on Nov. 12, 2008 from CNN and John Harris that Jarrett was taking a cabinet position at the White House instead of seeking the senate seat.

Greenlee testified Blagojevich continued to discuss what he could get for the senate seat and conversations lost direction. Blagojevich asked what he could get for appointing various other candidates, Greenlee said.

Blagojevich attended a fundraiser on Oct. 31, 2008, Greenlee testified, referring to the India House luncheon about which Bedi testified Wednesday morning. Greenlee said on Nov. 12, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s name came up as a possible appointment to the Senate.

The prosecution played a recorded conversation between Blagojevich and Greenlee from 5:14 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2008 in which Blagojevich tells Greenlee that they were approached “pay to play” for Jackson Jr. and he was offered $500,000 to $1 million to appoint him.

Greenlee testified the call was the first time he learned money was being offered for Jackson Jr.’s appointment.


UPDATE:  12:37 p.m.  
The prosecution played a call from 12:21 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2008 between Blagojevich and Greenlee. In it, Blagojevich asks Greenlee about salaries for CEOs of major nonprofits and they talk about how getting on corporate boards can make real money.

Blagojevich tells Greenlee in the call that he’s going to tell people he’s not considering himself for the Senate and that his top criterion for a senator will be a commitment to healthcare, especially for children.

Blagojevich asks Greenlee if Illinois is the only state that provides comprehensive health care to all children in the state and Greenlee tells him he’ll check.

Greenlee testified after his research into nonprofits, he told Blagojevich that he wouldn’t be qualified to work at them, but Blagojevich told Greenlee to keep looking.

At the press conference for which Blagojevich was practicing in the call, Greenlee testified, Blagojevich made comments consistent with what he said in the phone call.

Court then took a break for lunch.


UPDATE:  12:20 p.m.  
The prosecution played a recorded conversation between Blagojevich and Greenlee from 11:28 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2008 .

In the call Greenlee jokes Blagojevich should tell Obama he won’t appoint his choice to the Senate unless Obama lets Blagojevich play basketball with his group. Blagojevich tells Greenlee to look into ambassadorships.

On the list were Great Britain, France, Ireland, Russia and Germany.

Greenlee testified Blagojevich was talking about appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an ambassadorship.

The prosecution played another recorded conversation between Blagojevich and Greenlee from Nov. 4, 2008 , this one from 12:19 p.m.

In the call, Blagojevich says he has made decisions at the expense of his family for decades and now is the time to put them first. He launches into a profanity-laced tirade listing his accomplishments, like “"I f***ing busted my ass and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f***ing ride on a bus,” and complains about his 13 percent approval rating.

Greenlee testified Blagojevich thought Doug Scofield had to have some "underlying motivation" to disagree with Blagojevich on who to appoint to the Senate.

Greenlee testified he was in the governor’s Thompson Center office on Nov. 5, 2008 when Blagojevich called and told him he wanted to head a nonprofit in exchange for appointing Jarrett to the Senate. Blagojevich asked Greenlee to research nonprofits to find a suitable one, Greenlee said, and Greenlee gave Blagojevich the list, which included Kaiser Foundation and Families USA.

Greenlee said most of the foundations were health care related ones that Blagojevich indicated he’d be interested in.


UPDATE:  12:03 p.m.  
The prosecution called former Blagojevich staffer Bob Greenlee to the stand and began questioning him about the senate seat selection process.

Greenlee testified he put together a list of qualifications for possible candidates and sent it to Blagojevich and Bill Knapp, who responded with another list of qualifications. Among other things, Greenlee testified they wanted a candidate with a proven track record on health care, had a lifetime of public service and an affinity for the people of Illinois.

Greenlee testified Knapp said the candidate should also be focused on national issues, want to be an advocate for Illinois in Washington, D.C. and be focused on women’s and minority issues.

Blagojevich didn’t use any of this information when making his senate seat selection, Greenlee testified, and no search team was formed.

Greenlee testified in a Nov. 3, 2008 phone call with Blagojevich, they talked about Blagojevich being appointed as an ambassador and Greenlee did some research on Wikipedia to see which ambassadorships were significant enough.

In his testimony, Greenlee said he also talked to John Harris about Valerie Jarrett being interested in the senate seat. Greenlee also testified on Nov. 4, 2008 he worked as an election monitor and spoke with Blagojevich several times.


UPDATE:  11:42 a.m.  
After a short break, the prosecution asked Bedi about a breakfast meeting with Jackson Jr. and Raghuveer Nayak at 312 Restaurant on Oct. 28, 2008. Bedi testified they talked about Jackson Jr and the senate seat, and Nayak talked about fundraising. Later that day, Bedi testified, he met with Robert Blagojevich.

The prosecution then finished its direct examination and defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky began cross-examination.

Sorosky asked Bedi about his 2010 retail theft conviction. Bedi also testified that when Bedi gave cash to Nayak for 70 percent of checks Nayak was writing his company, he was doing so to help Nayak cheat on his federal income taxes. Bedi also said he profited on helping Nayak cheat.

Bedi testified his immunity agreement included a provision that he wouldn’t be prosecuted for anything he said on the stand and that he has been telling the truth.

Bedi said he met Blagojevich when he started fundraising for him though he did not give any personal contributions.

Sorosky went over the timeline of Oct. 28, 2008 with Bedi. Bedi testified that morning, he had breakfast with Nayak and Jackson Jr. where they talked about the senate seat and fundraising, then later that afternoon met with Robert Blagojevich, who told Bedi the campaign was desperate for money. Bedi told Robert Nayak would fundraise for Blagojevich if Jackson Jr. was appointed to the Senate. Bedi confirmed Robert said his brother would not appoint Jackson Jr. and Nayak should speak to Blagojevich himself.

Bedi said Nayak did contribute to the Blagojevich campaign and wrote a $5,000 check at the India House luncheon.

Sorosky asked if Bedi talked to Blagojevich about the senate seat at the Dec. 6 fundraiser, but the prosecution won an objection that it was outside the scope of the direct examination testimony.

Bedi said he had heard the recordings the prosecution played in court during his testimony before.

The defense was done with cross-examination and the witness was excused.


UPDATE:  10:58 a.m.  
The prosecution played a conversation from Oct. 31, 2008 at 12:58 p.m. between Robert Blagojevich and Bedi. Robert tells Bedi that he and Rod are five minutes from the luncheon and Rod has to leave by 1:40 p.m.

Bedi testified once Rob and Rod Blagojevich arrived at India House, Rod greeted people at the luncheon and Robert spoke with Nayak. Bedi said he also saw Rod sit next to Nayak and talk to him during the lunch.

After the event, Bedi testified he and Robert organized a Dec. 6, 2008 fundraiser for Blagoejvich.

The prosecution played a recorded conversation from 2:56 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2008 between Robert Blagojevich and Raghuveer Nayak. In the call, Nayak tells Robert Blagojevich that on Dec. 6, his birthday, he’ll be asking “everyone to write big checks” for the governor.

Nayak mentions in the call that he has a wealthy cousin who will be attending the fundraiser, and he says he’ll fax over some letters from the Indian community about Jesse Jackson Jr.

The prosecution played a recorded phone call from about a half hour later in which Nayak confirms Robert received the letters, then played a recording of a conversation from 6:25 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2008 between Rod and Robert Blagojevich.

In the call between the brothers, Robert asks Rod if he’d spoken to Sen. Dick Durbin, but Rod says he’s putting it off until Monday. Robert tells Rod that he received two faxes from Nayak with names of high-power Indian organizations that were advocating Jackson Jr. to be senator.

Rod tells Robert it’s better if he doesn’t pass along the faxes and tells Nayak he didn’t get a chance to send them.

Robert tells Rod the fundraiser is Dec. 6. Rod tells his brother that there’s a “tactical reason” to wait on the decision, and Robert agrees they should “drag it out” or “be deliberate.”


UPDATE:  10:42 a.m.  
Bedi testified that he stayed with Raghuveer Nayak when he first came to the states. Bedi testified he spoke with Nayak daily in Fall 2008, and Nayak wrote some checks to Bedi’s company that Bedi would give back some cash from.

Bedi gave Nayak about $1.4 million for the checks, he testified, which was about 70 percent of the dollar amount of the checks.

Nayak was politically active and did political fundraising, Bedi testified, and Nayak introduced him to Jesse Jackson Jr. Bedi testified the two were “very close friends.” At the Democratic National Convention in Aug. 2008, Bedi said he sat in Jackson Jr.’s booth thanks to Nayak’s connection to him.

Bedi testified he met Robert Blagojevich Oct. 28, 2008 to discuss the Oct. 31 luncheon they were planning. They expected 25 to 30 people to attend, including Nayak and another community leader who did not have a good relationship with Nayak at the time.

Bedi testified he and Robert also discussed Jackson Jr. after Robert brought up the topic. He said the Blagojevich campaign was desperate for money and asked Bedi what he could do to raise it, Bedi testified. Bedi told Robert that Jackson Jr. was very interested in the senate seat and a good friend of Nayak’s, and that Nayak would raise a lot of money for Blagojevich if Jackson Jr. was appointed to the seat.
Bedi spoke several times with Nayak about getting Jackson Jr. to the Senate prior to this meeting, he testified, and Nayak suggested on Oct. 28 that he could raise $1 million for the Blagojevich campaign if Jackson Jr. was appointed.

Bedi testified Robert told him Rod would not appoint Jackson Jr. to the seat because he had never supported them and that if Jackson Jr. was interested, he should talk to Rod himself. Bedi said the meeting lasted 15 to 20 minutes.

The prosecution then played an "overheard conversation" recorded in the Friends of Blagojevich conference room on Oct. 28, 2008 in which the Blagojevich brothers discuss the meeting and what Bedi told Robert about Nayak fundraising for Jackson Jr.'s appointment.

Bedi testified the lunch event took place as planned on Oct. 31, 2008 at the India House in Schaumburg.


UPDATE:  10:26 a.m.  
The prosecution called Bedi as its next witness. Bedi, 58, is a Chicago-based consultant on international trade for Global Impact Consulting. It’s a company he started in May 2009. Bedi testified he has an immunity agreement with the government to tell the truth or be convicted of perjury.

In 2010, Bedi was convicted of retail theft , and he testified his immunity agreement did not protect him from that conviction.

Bedi testified he met Blagojevich when he was running for Congress and consulted with him on how to fundraise in the Indian community. Bedi said the community raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich in the 2002 election.

In 2006 and 2008 Bedi organized Blagojevich fundraisers. In 2008, Bedi worked with Blagojevich’s brother Robert to raise money in the Indian community. He testified it was scheduled to take place in Sept. 2008 but didn’t happen because it was difficult to raise money from the community. Bedi and Robert Blagojevich developed a new strategy in which Rod Blagojevich would personally appeal to the community personally to ask for funds.

Blagojevich appeared at a lunch to speak to community leaders on Oct. 31, 2008 at Indian House in Schaumburg.


UPDATE:  10:09 a.m.  
Court began with a discussion between attorneys and the judge regarding what could be covered in the testimony of the next witness, Rajinder Bedi. Prosecutors said they wouldn’t specifically ask Bedi about a breakfast meeting Jesse Jackson Jr. regarding the senate seat, but they would ask questions about conversations with other people leading up to that meeting.

The defense said they were filing a motion for a mistrial, saying they are being cut off at the knees because they can’t ask meaningful questions on cross-examination and look like buffoons.

Judge James Zagel denied the motion on the grounds that it was too general. The judge reminded the defense that the prosecution was presenting its case and the defense will have its turn later. He said he would not allow the defense to ask questions of witnesses outside the scope of direct examination because last time they abused it.

The defense objected to Bedi being called as a witness because Blagojevich was no longer facing the overarching racketeering charges from the first trial and Blagojevich’s brother Robert Blagojevich is not a defendant in the retrial.

The prosecution argued Bedi is still a witness, Robert Blagojevich was still a co-conspirator and they will be playing recordings of Robert Blagojevich during the trial.



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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