Judicial Watch • JW Obtains Grand Jury Subpoenas of Federal Investigation of Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich – White House Advisors Listed

JW Obtains Grand Jury Subpoenas of Federal Investigation of Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich – White House Advisors Listed

JW Obtains Grand Jury Subpoenas of Federal Investigation of Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich – White House Advisors Listed

MARCH 12, 2009

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it obtained documents from the office of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as result of an Illinois Freedom of Information Act lawsuit related to federal investigations of Blagojevich, who was removed from office in January for attempting to "sell" President Obama’s Senate seat, among other charges. The documents include federal subpoenas issued to Governor Blagojevich’s office related to a number of individuals connected to President Obama and the national Democratic party, including:

  • Valerie Jarrett: Once labeled "the other side of Barack Obama’s brain" by CBS news, Jarrett remains a close advisor to President Obama. Obama recently tapped Jarrett to chair his newly formed White House Council on Women and Girls. Jarrett was widely rumored to be a candidate to take over Obama’s senate seat.
  • David Axelrod: Axelrod, Obama’s top campaign strategist, now serves as a senior White House advisor. During the campaign, when asked about the search for a replacement for Obama’s Senate seat, Axelrod told Fox News Chicago, "I know [Obama has] talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them." He later retracted the statement.
  • David Wilhelm: Wilhelm, a former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and campaign strategist for Bill Clinton, served as an informal advisor to the Obama campaign. He was also a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
  • J.B. Pritzker: Obama named Mr. Pritzker’s sister, Penny, to serve on his recently formed 15-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Penny Pritzker previously served as the Obama campaign’s National Finance Chair.

Judicial Watch filed its original Freedom of Information Act request on November 27, 2006. Blagojevich’s office claimed the subpoenas were exempt from disclosure. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on January 16, 2007, in the Cook County Illinois Circuit Court. Governor Pat Quinn’s office finally released the grand jury subpoenas on March 4, 2009.

The grand jury subpoena requesting documents on Jarrett, Axelrod and Pritzker is dated December 8, 2008. The grand jury subpoena that concerns David Wilhelm is dated April 13, 2007.

"We now have confirmation that top Obama White House officials are caught up in a federal grand jury investigation," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "It would be helpful if President Obama kept his promises of transparency and finally released all documents related to this scandal."

In January 2009, Judicial Watch obtained documents specifically regarding Blagojevich’s contacts with President Obama and his transition team. The documents include a December 3, 2008, letter from Barack Obama following a meeting with Blagojevich as well as a November 17, 2008, letter signed by former Presidential Transition Team co-chairs Valerie Jarrett and John Podesta providing Blagojevich with a list of transition team contacts.

Judicial Watch Litigation Director Paul Orfanedes also testified to the 21-member Special Investigative Committee that recommended Blagojevich’s impeachment to the Illinois House of Representatives.

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