Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Tapes Portray Foul-Mouthed, Brooding Governor

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jurors in the Rod Blagojevich corruption case got an inside look Wednesday at the emotions they never saw on TV when Rod Blagojevich was governor: a brooding insecure Rod, and an angry, foul-mouthed, and seemingly vindictive first lady.

    Deputy governor Bob Greenlee described an absentee governor who only came to the office "two to eight hours a week," and was so averse to bad news, he once hid in the rest room to avoid his own budget director.

    [Justice.gov:  Audio / Exhibits]

    In a call from Nov. 4, 2008, Blagojevich tells Greenlee he is furious with advisor Doug Scofield, for telling him he shouldn't appoint himself Senator. And he adds something of a low opinion of his constituency.

    "I f---ing busted my ass and pissed people off and gave your grandma a free ride on the bus! I gave your f---ing baby a chance to have health care! And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you all out there think I'm doing a good job! So f--- all of you!"

    But there was a Senate seat to fill. On December 4, 2008, Blagojevich told staffers he was warming to the idea of Jesse Jackson Jr. A new poll had indicated Jackson had much higher support in the black community than Lisa Madigan, who had been Blagojevich's first choice because he hoped to cut a deal with her father, the powerful House Speaker.

    Incredulous aides reminded Blagojevich in a phone call secretly recorded by the government, that Jackson had politically double-crossed him before. But the governor told them that this time he was being offered something different.

    There's tangible concrete stuff from supporters," he said, apparently referring to the million dollars plus Jackson supporters had offered in exchange for his appointment.

    "You know, specific amounts and everything. And while, you know, I don't know if all of that is achieveable, there is, some of it, up front!"

    Later in that conversation, Blagojevich says, "Jesse Jackson wants it badly! And he's the only one willing to offer other stuff!"

    When his advisors continue to express doubts, Blagojevich suggests Jackson may offer the best all-around alternative.

    "I can cut a better political deal with him. Trust and verify. Which means you need, and you need some down payment and all the rest, if you want to be cynical. And with them, you need a lot of down payment!"

    In other developments Thursday:

    • Blagojevich tells advisors that former school board chief Gery Chico would be the best pick for the Senate job. "But Gery does nothing for me!"
       
    • Greenlee breaks the news to the governor that Barack Obama's staff specifically asked him not to attend their victory celebration in Grant Park. The Blagojevich press staff obtains an invitation for their boss, only after they promise that the governor will not use it.
       
    •  Blagojevich fully expected to be impeached in the spring of 2009. He called House minority leader Tom Cross "gutless" and "spineless". He believes his own father-in-law has threatened to run a candidate against Senate President John Cullerton unless he moves forward with impeachment.
       
    • Jurors heard the beginning of what is expected to be the coup de grace for prosecutors: allegations that Blagojevich held up an adjustment of medicare reimbursements to squeeze a campaign contribution out of Children's Memorial Hospital. That story is expected to be the last tale to unfold, before the prosecution rests on Tuesday.