JULY 22, 2008
Although he has already spent more than $2 million in legal fees to fend off an ongoing federal corruption probe, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich continues to rake in millions of dollars in contributions from sate contractors that regularly seek his help and influence.
Just last month, Blagojevich’s top adviser and fundraiser (Antoin Rezko) was convicted of multiple corruption charges for using his clout with the Democrat governor to squeeze more than $7 million in bribes and kickbacks from firms seeking to do business with the state.
Blagojevich’s name was prominent during the two-month trial which drew national attention because Rezko is also a longtime friend, adviser and campaign donor of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Three convicted political insiders testified at the trial that the governor made it clear that people who raised money for his campaign would profit from his influence.
This week a local newspaper’s review reveals that most of Blagojevich’s recent donations—$3.6 million in the last few months—have come from companies doing business with the state, presenting an obvious conflict of interest not to mention ethics violation. In fact, the governor refuses to sign an ethics measure on his desk that would make it illegal for state contractors to donate to such campaigns because it would severely slash his funds.
Ironically, Blagojevich campaigned with promises of cleaning up his corrupt predecessor’s scandalous administration yet he has turned out to be just as dirty. Illinois’ previous governor (Republican George Ryan) is serving a 6 ½-year prison sentence for using state funds to run his campaigns, handing out state contracts to lobbyist friends and killing the investigation of bribery in the drivers licensing division.
Blagojevich has been embroiled in scandal since he moved into the governor’s mansion in 2007. Not long after he was sworn in, Judicial Watch filed an open records lawsuit against Blagojevich seeking documents related to the federal corruption investigation, including federal grand jury subpoenas received by the governor’s office or any state agency under his control. The governor claims they are exempt from public disclosure even though Illinois’ attorney general says the documents are in fact subject to public disclosure.
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