Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Balanof and Jarrett "Laughed" at Blagojevich's Ambition

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tom Balanoff, the president of the local chapter of SEIU, testified that despite having the blessing of President Obama, it was clear Blagojevich was not inteterested in appointing Valerie Jarrett to the vacant senate seat without some sort of benefit to him.  

    During a meeting with Blagojevich at his office in the Thomson Center on November 6, 2008, Balanoff testified that he explained to the governor that while Obama had preferred to have Jarrett in the White House, she expressed interest in the senate seat.

    Balanoff explained to Blagojevich that it was a smart political decision for him:  "It would help him with African-Americans, women, businesses and labor unions."

    And while Blago agreed, his response was, "I am in active discussions with the Madigans and am seriously considering Lisa.   (Appointing her) would remove his main rival for the governors election and move his legislation forward."  

    When Balanoff advised him Valerie could not wait that long, Blago mentioned his love of health care and he could be Heath and Human Secretary.  To which Balanoff replied "that is not going to happen" (it's a story he would later share with Jarrett and they both got a good laugh out of it). 

    A follow-up meeting to discuss Jarrett again was scheduled for Saturday, Nov 8th, but Blagojevich cancelled, saying he'd be out of town.