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Blagojevich Aides Rip into Former Governor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A lot was said about Gov. Rod Blagojevich during his two trials, but now letters to the judge are providing a better idea of what it was like for his staffer to work under the now-convicted leader during his six years in office. Many of those letters describe the administration as chaotic and difficult. (Published Monday, Apr 2, 2012)

    How dysfunctional was Rod Blagojevich's administration?

    Letters obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show that even the then-governor's aides weren't always fans of Blagojevich's governing style.

    Blagojevich's Chief of Staff Sentenced

    [CHI] Blagojevich's Chief of Staff Sentenced
    John Harris was sentenced Wednesday to 10 days in prison for helping his old boss attempt to sell President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. Harris pleaded guilty in a 2010 plea agreement to conspiracy to commit bribery. He faced up to five years. (Published Friday, Sep 21, 2012)

    The letters, written to Judge James Zagel to push for leniency in the sentencing of Blagojevich's former chief of staff John Harris, spoke of highly unusual behavior by the former governor. Aides described actions they said made it very hard for Harris to stay out of trouble.

    A letter written by Blagojevich's last chief of staff, Clayton Harris III, told a story of "an episode where I was directed to fire the entire legal department because they lacked the professionalism that the governor believed should have been exhibited."

    "The Hardest Thing I've Ever Had to Do": Blago

    [CHI] "The Hardest Thing I've Ever Had to Do": Blago
    Rod Blagojevich gets choked up as he talks to NBCChicago's Phil Rogers at Freddy's in Colorado before the former governor entered prison. Blagojevich talks about being on the phone with his daughter and trying to stay strong. (Published Thursday, Mar 15, 2012)

    Harris III, no relation to John Harris, said Blagojevich then ordered him to hire [an unemployed lawyer] he met in line at Starbucks to be chief legal counsel of the State of Illinois," according to the Sun-Times.

    That same letter describes John Harris as being caught between his superior and chaos. Even Judge Zagel said at the sentencing he couldn't say for sure that he wouldn't have behaved the same way if he were in Harris' position.

    Another letter, from Blagojevich’s state police director Larry Trent, described how Blagojevich wanted to ride along with state troopers to fight crime. In yet another letter, a longtime executive assistant to Blagojevich said Blagojevich “basically would wear a person down.”

    In the end, Zagel sentenced Harris to 10 days in prison.

    "I can't tell you that if I were in your position the results would have been any different," Zagel told Harris. "But I would have left sooner."

    Harris also will have two years of supervised release.