Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

For a Brother's Love?

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For a Brother's Love?

Though close as children growing up on the city's Northwest Side, by adulthood Robert and Rod Blagojevich had drifted apart, only to be brought closer together when the governor made a surprising request for help.

Robert Blagojevich said he was "flattered" and "surprised" when then-Governor Blagojevich asked him to oversee the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund in July 2008. Robert knew the governor's inner circle was under investigation, and Rod said he just needed someone he could trust.

Rob Blagojevich had little experience with fund-raising, having spent only a little time soliciting donations for the Red Cross and the YMCA. But, at the behest of his wife, Julie -- who thought the opportunity would help the two brothers grow closer -- Robert Blagojevich took the job.

But, Rob never mixed fundraising and state action, he testified. Not once.

Before he got started working with Rod's campaign, Robert Blagojevich said he met with Rod's general counsel, Bill Quinlan, to better understand the rules of raising funds for a politician's campaign.

"I was told never to tie the two and I never did," he said.

And, later in testimony: "Rod made a deliberate point to keep me separate," Robert Blagojevich said. "Like I said, I learned don't mix government with fundraising."

That's not to say there wasn't incentive to do so. Fundraising for Rod Blagojevich was never easy, according to the ex-governor's brother.

Robert Blagojevich also said that the fundraising goal by the end of 2008, set by Rod, was $2.5 million. But by the time of their arrest, Robert says they had only received $700,000.  He said fundraising was difficult. 

"Rod's brand was tarnished," he said.  "We got more no's than yeses!"

Robert Blagojevich said that he was rarely involved with actual fund-raising contacts, and that he had no direct contact with key figures in the trial including racetrack magnate John Jonston or Jerry Krozel at the Roadbuilders' Association.

"I was the scorekeeper," Robert Blagojevich said, adding that Lon Monk was the usual go-between. During meetings at Friends of Blagojevich, Lon and Rod would often talk privately, he said.

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