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Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009 06:26 pm

The Governor blames everybody but himself

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich
PHOTO BY KUNI TAKAHASHI/MCT
As expected, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s new book paints himself as the hero of Illinois politics and blames everyone but himself for his troubles.

He also tries to settle an old score. Blagojevich’s longtime enemies, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, are both attacked.

“I believe the two Madigans are not the people they pretend to be,” Blagojevich writes in his new book, The Governor.

“Both of them are surrounded by conflicts of interest and indiscretions in their public and private lives.”

Blagojevich doesn’t detail any “indiscretions” about either Madigan’s personal lives, but he does allege that Speaker Madigan’s property tax law practice is “unethical” and “very well may be illegal.” And if it’s not illegal, it should be, Blagojevich writes.

Blagojevich also alleges that Mike and Lisa Madigan sabotaged his legislative agenda because Blagojevich refused to contribute money to the Democratic Party of Illinois, which Mike Madigan runs.

The former governor asserts that both Madigans and others met with Blagojevich to persuade him to contribute to a fund for Democratic candidates. Blagojevich described the meeting as “an effort to muscle me for nearly $400,000 in campaign funds.”

Blagojevich added that Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s presence at the meeting was “incredibly unethical” because she had subpoenaed his campaign fundraising records.

After noting the details of the seating arrangements, Blagojevich wrote this of Speaker and Attorney General Madigan, respectively: “While dear old dad is literally and figuratively putting the arm on me from the left side, she is subtly holding a gun to my head from the right.”

A spokesman for Speaker Madigan said that the book’s publisher must have reneged on his pledge to force Blagojevich to take a lie detector test. “The guy’s a very troubled human being,” the spokesman said of Blagojevich, adding “Why anybody would pay attention to this is beyond me.”

Despite promising months ago to name names and spill the dirt on Illinois politics, Blagojevich does very little of that.

For instance, while discussing the allegations that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, Blagojevich claims he never offered a quid pro quo on the seat. But, he writes that others “approached us about campaign contributions if I either appointed them or the person they were supporting to the Senate. If anyone should have been charged with a crime for this, it should have been them and not me.”

The ex-governor does provide an example of someone who mentioned campaign money in exchange for an appointment — but that offer doesn’t appear to have been direct. And he doesn’t give us the name. The former governor alleges that one of his close legislative allies who is also a “prominent” African-American state legislator brought up the subject.

Blagojevich alleged that the unnamed black legislator “intimated that his overflowing campaign fund might be available to me,” if Blagojevich ran for a third term as governor.

The legislator wanted to talk with Blagojevich in person, but Blagojevich claimed he canceled the meeting because he wanted to “avoid any conversations with anyone who could possibly be chosen as a senator who might say something that could be interpreted as improper.”

The former governor also noted that canceling the meeting probably saved this legislator from getting in trouble with the law, but that the legislator later voted to impeach him.

The book’s most useful passages imply what could be Blagojevich’s defense during his federal corruption trial. Essentially, chief of staff John Harris was to blame.
Harris was arrested the same day as Blagojevich, but he has since agreed to cooperate with the feds.

Blagojevich wrote that he intended to operate his administration, “effectively, honestly and always within the rules,” but then added he “relied” on Harris “to tell me what we could and could not do.”

“As governor,” Blagojevich wrote, “I left those [operational] details in the hands of my chiefs of staff.”

That’s classic Rod Blagojevich. Throw everybody else under the bus.

Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.
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