Blagojevich's Entourage Connection - NBC Chicago
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Blagojevich's Entourage Connection



    Blagojevich's Entourage Connection
    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

    Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to pressure then-U.S. Congressman Rahm Emanuel into asking his brother, Hollywood agent and inspiration for Entourage character Ari Gold, to hold a fundraiser for the governor, according to testimony Monday.

    Testifying in court today, Blagojevich's former deputy governor, Bradley Tusk, said that Blagojevich in 2006 refused to release $2 million in funds for a school grant.

    The grant was intended for the Chicago Academy's athletic fields. Then-Congresman Emanuel called Tusk to inquire about the status of the money, which Emanuel had personally pushed for. Emanuel wanted to know when the money would be released.

    Tusk testified that when he inquired with Blagojevich about the money, Blagojevich had a message he wanted delivered: "Before the money was released he wanted Congressman Emanuel's brother to hold a fundraiser," Tusk testified.

    Blagojevich, he said, wanted Rahm to "get the message."

    When asked by the prosecution whether he delivered that message, Tusk said "no, it was illegal and unethical." He got off the phone as soon as he could.

    Also testifying today was John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff who has pled guilty for conspiracy to commit a bribe. He could serve up to 35 months. He originally faced 20 years.

    On the witness stand, Harristestified about Blagojevich's efforts to get his wife Patti a stat job. At first, in 2008, the Blagojeviches aimed for a position at the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

    Harris testified that he tried to dissuade Blagojevich because Patti wasn't qualified, but that Blagojevich dismissed these concerns by arguing that other people who had held the job were unqualified as well.

    Rebuffed at nearly every turn, Blagojevich asked Harris to speak with his contacts in the financial industry, according to Harris. When that approach didn't work, Harris says Blagojevich floated the idea that Citibank shouldn't receive any more state business.

    says Blagojevich told him to cut investments in two investment houses because they wouldn't hire Blagojevich's wife, Patti.

    Harris also said that as early as his job interview in 2005, Blagojevich was talking about running for president.