Blagojevich Team Pressured Me to Donate, Says Racetrack Owner - NBC Chicago
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Blagojevich Team Pressured Me to Donate, Says Racetrack Owner



    Blagojevich Team Pressured Me to Donate, Says Racetrack Owner
    FILE - In this June 8, 2010 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, left, arrives at the Federal Court building with his wife Patti, for his federal corruption trial in Chicago. A defense theme at Blagojevich's racketeering and fraud trial is that he simply didn't know what was going on all around him. Experts say that strategy can work with juries but also present tricky problems. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)whitake

    Maywood Park chief John Johnston testified Monday that in the fall of 2008 he was pressured to contribute thousands to Rod Blagojevich's campaign fund, in exchange for the governor's signature on a bill which he said was important to the Illinois horse industry.

    Johnston said the bill, which diverted casino proceeds to racing venues statewide, meant $9000 a day to the two tracks.

    He said former chief of staff Lon Monk was the one applying the pressure.

    "He said, I spoke to the governor and he's afraid if he signs the racing  legislation you won't be forthcoming with a contribution."

    "I said, your suggestion of a contribution at this time was inappropriate," Johnston testified.  "He said, I really need you to get a contribution in by the end of the year!"

    "What did you think was going to happen if you did make a contribution,"  asked prosecutor Chris Niewoehner.

    "They'd cash the check and sign the bill," Johnston said.

    Johnston never wrote Blagojevich a check.  At the time the governor was arrested, he still had not signed the bill.