Boxes of Blagojevich’s personal items, documents uncovered - FOX 32 News Chicago

Boxes of Blagojevich’s personal items, documents uncovered: EXCLUSIVE

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

*For more on this story, tune into FOX Chicago News Wednesday at 9 p.m. for Part 2.

They're the papers Rod Blagojevich thought you'd never see. FOX Chicago has obtained nearly a dozen boxes of documents that used to belong to the imprisoned former governor. They span more than two decades, and they're filled with everything from funny stories to dirty tricks.

Just two days after his first trial ended, some of Rod Blagojevich's prized possessions hit the auction block. The former governor hadn't been paying the bills on his storage lockers, so the company sold his stuff. An Elvis statue got a lot of attention when it sold for more than $20,000, but quietly, a man in the western suburbs shelled out a few hundred bucks for some tattered, mold-covered cardboard boxes filled with papers. After he grew tired of them sitting in his garage, he gave them to FOX Chicago and they're packed with stories.

The boxes start in the late 1980s, when the once-powerful politician was just a small-time storefront lawyer handling cases like bar fights and car crashes. We showed the boxes to Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki, who did extensive research on Blagojevich for her new book, "Only in Chicago."

"His reputation is sort of consistent. He was never big on work ethic, but high on aspirations. A lot of his cases early on were very small," Korecki said.

Even then, Blagojevich had his critics. The young lawyer was handling a case where a mom was suing a store after her son was accused of stealing baseball cards. That kid's mom wrote Blagojevich a scathing letter, blasting his "lack of professionalism." She wanted to know why Blagojevich wouldn't return her calls. She questions whether he was actually working on the case, and asked for her $750 retainer back. Blagojevich responded--a month and a half later--by advising the woman to drop the case.

"Here she is, ripping the lack of professionalism of Rod Blagojevich in 1990. This woman and her husband were way ahead of the curve," said FOX Chicago Political Editor Mike Flannery.

A pink letter from June of 1988 was from Blagojevich's brand new girlfriend, Patti Mell. He was handling a case for his future father-in-law, powerful Chicago Alderman Dick Mell, and Patti sent the note to tell Blagojevich where to send the bill.

"Everything took off after he met Patti. He started getting referrals from Dick Mell," Korecki said.

Mell's name surfaces time and again in the files, as clout for Blagojevich's law clients. In one, Mell goes to bat for a Blagojeivch client who was trying to become a police officer, but had a drug arrest on his record. After the Mell letter, the guy got the job--and 22 years later, he's still a Chicago cop.

In that same box, something very strange. A copy of a magazine postcard where someone signs Mell up for a subscription to Playboy, along with a gift subscription for then-Alderman Bill Beavers, who says he never got the magazines.

The files skip Blagojevich's time as a state representative, and jump ahead to his stint in Washington, with congressional schedules and letters. It appears he was unsuccessfully searching for an issue to make his own.

"If you try to look at any accomplishments then you're not going to find a lot. People describe him when he was both in the General Assembly and the Congress as a backbencher," Korecki said.

Blagojevich kept boxes filled with copies of radio and TV commercials from both runs for governor. And, as the federal investigation started heating up in 2006, his campaign aides kept notebooks packed with comments on reporters and what they were covering, like Flannery's stories about fundraiser Tony Rezko.

"To see during that '06 campaign they were keeping track of what we were reporting about Rezko just underlines how frustrating it was. We did these stories. We said the FBI is investigating this guy, but it had no effect," Flannery said.

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