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Patricia Blagojevich Says She Was Defamed

CHICAGO (CN) - Patricia Blagojevich, wife of the former governor, claims her successor as an executive with the Chicago Christian Industrial League defamed her in an interview with the Sun-Times. Blagojevich claims that Rick Roberts falsely accused her of stealing the organization's donor list when she was fired and using it to promote her husband's new book.

The 5-page complaint in Cook County Court claims that Roberts, "perhaps to deflect attention from his performance as senior director of strategy and communications for the Chicago Christian Industrial League ... charted a particularly distasteful course: defaming the former First Lady of the State of Illinois."

Blagojevich says the League hired her as its director of development in September 2008. She says that when she began work, "much to her surprise," she found that the League "did not maintain an email list of donors and other persons for purposes of outreach". She says she created her own lost of potential donors, which included friends, family, former business partners and acquaintances and imported her list to her work computer, then "used (it) to solicit contributions for the League and for other purposes within the scope of her employment."

The League fired her in or about January this year, according to the complaint. She says it hired Roberts about a month later, and that "as a precondition of Roberts accepting employment with CCIL, CCIL was required to terminate the former First Lady."

She claims that "Roberts went too far in his attempt to promote himself and CCIL." On or about Sept. 16 this year, she says, Roberts told Sun-Times columns Michael Sneed "that plaintiff had stolen and utilized CCIL's donor lost - something Roberts claimed is proprietary - to promote the release of her husband, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's new book."

She says the offensive articles were published on Sept. 17 and 18. She says the accusation of stealing the list was malicious and untrue, and Roberts knew it was untrue, or said it with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity.

She demands punitive damages. Roberts is the only defendant. Blagojevich is represented by Jay Edelson.


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