The Illinois Republican Party launched robocalls Tuesday tying prospective Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker to incarcerated former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The robocall claims Pritzker wanted Blagojevich to appoint him to the President Barack Obama's former Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in fundraising. The recorded message includes a portion of an FBI-recorded phone call from 2008 wherein Blagojevich discusses his options with aide Doug Scofield.
“I bet you J.B. can raise me money like that,” Blagojevich was recorded saying. “If I can get J.B. to do something like that, is it worth giving him the Senate seat? Incidentally, he asked me for it. Don’t repeat that."
However, the robocall doesn't include the portion of the conversation where Blagojevich agrees with Scofield that "that's a hard one to do."
"Yeah, you're darn right that's hard," Blagojevich said on the tape. "But you have an organization that, you know, you go out and advocate and, and he'll help fund it by getting some of his billionaire friends to, to invest in it."
Pritzker, whose connections to Blagojevich were subpoenaed by a Federal Grand Jury, raised money for the disgraced former governor during his political career. The billionaire responded to the GOP attacks Tuesday, slamming Gov. Bruce Rauner, his prospective opponent in 2018.
“You would think a governor who has failed to pass a budget for two years and has allowed human services to be decimated would have better things to do with his time than dredge up delusional rantings of Rod Blagojevich,” a Pritzker spokesperson said in a statement.
The Illinois Republican Party has also worked to link Pritzker and another prospective Democratic candidate, businessman Chris Kennedy, to House Speaker Michael Madigan. The Illinois GOP claims the Leading Illinois For Tomorrow political action committee, which is led by Democratic state Sen. Daniel Biss, is actually a “front group” for Madigan’s political activities.
“It’s clear that both Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker will do whatever Mike Madigan wants,” Illinois GOP spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement last week. “Pritzker and Kennedy combined to give to a failed Madigan front group $950,000 and thousands more to Madigan’s House candidates."
Last week, the Illinois Republican Party added Kennedy to their "Boss Madigan" blog, which attacks the speaker's "web of influence" over members of his party.