CHICAGO – Federal prosecutors’ latest portrait of Rod Blagojevich in his final days as Illinois governor reveal a man fed up with his $177,000-a-year job, desperate for cash and seeing his power to appoint someone to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat as his ticket to a “good gig.”
Blagojevich is quoted in a 91-page document released Wednesday, a preview of the evidence prosecutors plan to present at his racketeering and fraud trial due to start June 3.
The so-called Santiago proffer doesn’t break much new ground in the scandal that ended with Blagojevich’s impeachment, but adds to a portrait of corruption.
Blagojevich repeatedly searched for some way to turn the Senate seat into money, according to the document.
After representatives of one Senate hopeful made what Blagojevich believed to be a $1.5 million offer for the seat, he told his brother to let them know they wouldn’t get it unless the promised fundraising got started quickly, according to the document.
Rod Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to racketeering and fraud charges alleging he schemed to sell or trade the seat and illegally pressured prospective campaign contributors. His brother, businessman Robert Blagojevich, is charged as a co-conspirator and has pleaded not guilty.
The document also says the former governor’s wife, Patti Blagojevich, received a $40,000 payment for work she didn’t do from Tony Rezko, a campaign fundraiser later convicted of bribery and other charges.
Prosecutors say that at the time of that payment, Patti Blagojevich was being paid a monthly retainer of $12,000 plus commissions as a Rezko contractor. Prosecutors say under that deal, Rezko’s company paid her $96,000 over a five-month period, and that employees of Rezko’s company were unaware of any work she performed that justified such a lucrative contract.
Patti Blagojevich has not been charged.
Blagojevich is quoted in the document as grumbling that his “upward trajectory” had stalled.
“Now is the time for me to put my … children and my wife first, for a change,” he is quoted as saying as he considered what to do about the Senate seat.