Blago Trial: Thrills, Spills and Sandwiches - NBC Chicago
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Blago Trial: Thrills, Spills and Sandwiches



    Blago Trial:  Thrills, Spills and Sandwiches
    In this courtroom sketch, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, center, and his brother Rob, right, listen to U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton present the government's case against the brothers during their federal corruption trial Tuesday, June 8, 2010 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Verna Sadock)

    The Blagojevich corruption trial was filled Thursday with thrills, spills (literally), and two sandwiches.

    Trust us.

    Fact-wise, Democratic party financier Joe Cari testified that he got an early lesson on how business would be done in a Rod Blagojevich Illinois early in the administration.

    Cari said Blagojevich insider Stuart Levine, told him that the governor was setting up a mechanism to hit up state contractors for campaign money.

    "There would be a quid pro quo," Cari said.  "They were going to reward their friends."

    Cari testified that he was told his investment firm would be rewarded with state business if he raised money for Blagojevich, something he said he found “startling”.

    "It was very clear to me, based on the conversations with Kelly, Rezko, and the governor, that if you did not play ball the way they wanted, there were repercussions," Cari said.  "If you got state work you would have to make a political contribution. And if you made political contributions, you got state work."

    Shortly after Cari’s testimony, as he was leaving the courthouse, he was bumped by a television cameraman [video]. He went down, first on his back, then rolled over face down. Eventually, the former Al Gore finance chief got up, and went inside the building. He left by another exit, and joked with cameramen who caught up with him on that side.

    Also on the stand was former Illinois Finance Authority executive director Ali Ata. Ata, a longtime Blagojevich contributor, testified that when he got the job, Blagojevich pal Tony Rezko told him he needed to make a $50,000 campaign contribution. He said they finally settled for $25,000.

    Ata testified that in additition to his IFA duties, he was also landlord of a building the state rented from him on 59th street in Chicago. After receiving a letter saying that the state wanted to terminate the lease, Ata said he went to Rezko asking for help. According to Ata, Rezko said he would intervene with the administration, but he demanded to be cut in as a 50 percent partner on the building. He said they settled on 25 percent, in an off the books transaction.

    Elsewhere in the building, the Dirksen Federal Building Cafeteria posted a pair of new sandwiches Thursday: the Innocent AKA Blago, which is a turkey concoction, and of course, a "Patty Melt" (Note Mrs. Blagojevich’s name is misspelled).

    The governor said in a courtroom aside that he tried his sandwich, and found it "the most honest, accurate, and truthful sandwich he had ever had --- with a slice of avocado."

    By mid afternoon, the sandwiches had disappeared from the menu.