Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Did Jackson Offer Blago a Million Dollars?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Rod Blagojevich was never a fan of Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

    Jackson endorsed Roland Burris for governor and Blagojevich never forgave the slight.

    For that reason, it must have been a moment of sweet revenge for Blagojevich Wednesday, as a former state trade official was portrayed as the go-between in an offer of a million dollar payoff on Jackson's behalf.

    [Justice.gov:  July 7, 2010 Exhibits]

    Former state commerce official Rajinder Bedi was on the stand as prosecutors told Judge James Zagel that Bedi was present at a meeting with Jackson, and Indian-American businessman Raghu Nayak in October of 2008. At that meeting, he said Nayak proposed raising a million dollars for Blagojevich, in exchange for Jackson's appointment to Barack Obama's soon to be vacant Senate seat.

    Bedi was not allowed to tell that story to the jury. But they did hear that his proposal for fundraising was met with a casual dismissal that same day, by Blagojevich's brother Robert.

    Still, it was clear that the governor himself knew of the offer. On an undercover recording from four days later, Blagojevich is heard telling his deputy governor Bob Greenlee, "I got some lady callin' my house for Jesse Junior here a little while ago. I...we were approached pay to play. You know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came, then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him senator."

    Jackson has long maintained that he did nothing wrong, and never authorized any improper contacts.

    "I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period," he declared the day after Blagojevich's arrest.

    In other Blagojevich developments Wednesday:

    • Blagojevich is overheard on one undercover tape, declaring that Veteran's Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth had no chance for the Senate seat. But he quickly added, "Unless, you know, they make me a great deal. You know what I mean?"
       
    • The former governor's lawyers said in a motion their defense strategy would be that he never honestly believed his acts were illegal.
       
    • A witness took the stand to say his west loop building was another site where Patti Blagojevich seemed to have earned a real estate commission for a project where she did no work. Prosecutors say Blagojevich pal Tony Rezko cut her in for commissions on projects where she played no role.
       
    • Roadbuilder's Association chief Gerald Krozel stuck to his story that Blagojevich had attempted to shake him down for a campaign contribution in exchange for an expansion of tollway construction. "The tollway was connected to my campaign contributions," Krozel said.