CHICAGO (CN) – Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich told an adviser that he wanted to work in Washington in exchange for selling Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, according to key evidence released Wednesday in his corruption trial. “The objective is to, to get a good gig over there,” he said, according to the 91-page document.
The document unsealed Wednesday sheds new light on how the ousted governor allegedly profited from his elected position.
The Associated Press and other Chicago news outlets successfully petitioned U.S. District Judge James Zagel to unseal the evidence, which included transcripts of conversations between Blagojevich and his alleged co-conspirators.
Blagojevich faces a myriad of charges, including racketeering, attempted extortion, and bribery, for allegedly using his office for personal gain. Prosecutors say Blagojevich’s attempt to sell President Obama’s vacated Senate seat was only the tip of the iceberg in a string of money-making conspiracies, including using his position to solicit campaign donations and to secure jobs for the governor and his wife, Patti.
Authorities say Rod Blagojevich, Antonin “Tony” Rezko, Christopher Kelly and Alonzo Monk met to discuss how they could best leverage state power. Rezko allegedly stood at a board and masterminded most of the schemes to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Blagojevich “mostly listened … but was engaged,” according to the evidentiary proffer.
Prosecutors say Kelly and Rezko, key players in Blagojevich’s campaign, selected candidates for office based on support from key donors. Over the course of Blagojevich’s term, Kelly and Rezko allegedly developed a system for choosing appointments that rewarded the largest campaign donors.
Blagojevich is also accused of trying to extract a $50,000 donation from the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital in exchange for $8 million in state funds.
He and his co-conspirators also plotted to funnel state money into their own businesses, according to the newly released evidence, and Rezko tried to pay Patti Blagojevich more than $150,000 for real estate work she didn’t do.
The document describes Blagojevich’s alleged attempt to leverage his way into Washington by selling Obama’s Senate seat to Valerie Jarrett, a candidate favored by the Obama administration. In a voice recording, he said, “Now is the time for me to put my f-cking children and wife first, for a change.”
He allegedly tried to land his wife a job as the national director of the labor group Change to Win, and told her not to worry about the salary.
“You negotiate that,” he allegedly said on the phone. “I’d like a four-year contract for a million a year or something … or 750 or whatever. It’d have to be good. Obama’s got excess money, he just gives them more money.”
The prosecution says Blagojevich made a last-ditch effort to sell the Senate seat to Jesse Jackson Jr., who Blagojevich described as wanting the seat “badly and desperately.”
Jackson supporters organized $1.5 million in campaign donations to Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson’s nomination, according to phone recordings.
Raghuveer Nayak, the Chicago businessman who reportedly brokered the Blagojevich-Jackson deal, is cooperating with authorities.
Despite the ex-governor’s apparent optimism that a deal would be made, the conditions never materialized; neither Blagojevich nor his wife was appointed to federal political office, according to the document.
Federal authorities arrested Blagojevich shortly after a fundraiser hosted by Nayak. Jackson continues to deny any involvement with the scheme.
The tight-knit group of alleged conspirators crumpled as court proceedings began. Christopher Kelly committed suicide last fall, after he pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges. Alonzo “Lon” Monk, Blagojevich’s chief of staff, pleaded guilty to corruption charges. Authorities say Monk agreed to help with the investigation.
Blagojevich has faced a maelstrom of media attention and public outrage over the newly released document.
“There is nothing new,” he said in a statement issued by his publicist. “It’s the same old false allegations and lies. I’m looking forward to trial so the truth comes out and everyone will see that I am innocent.”
The governor was removed from office last January, after Illinois senators voted 59-0 vote to impeach him.