Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

June 22, 2009

AP Exclusive: Blago’s politics all in day’s work

By JOHN O’CONNOR

AP Political Writer

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Rod Blagojevich had misplaced a $10,000 campaign contribution. Luckily, his wife found the check at home and told the governor’s secretary, who promised to take care of it.

Soon the money was deposited safely, just after the donor’s daughter began a new job at the state Department of Corrections.

Campaigning. Governing.

The incident and others like it hint at how intertwined the two became during the former Illinois executive’s tenure, according to an Associated Press review of a phone log kept by the Chicago Democrat. He was impeached and ejected from office and faces a federal indictment on corruption charges.

The log, other records and interviews show that under the self-styled reform governor:

—A relative of the tailor who made Blagojevich’s suits worth $2,000 or more sought a state job. She got it.

—Dozens of people Blagojevich met, as well as political contributors, friends and even his dentist, were invited to lodge at the governor’s mansion in Springfield.

—A taxpayer-paid travel aide appears to have been dispatched on personal errands, picking up the governor’s suits or delivering Scotch on a Saturday for another aide’s Christmas party.

—Blagojevich’s staff balked at allowing a Cook County commissioner to meet with him because an aide said she hadn’t helped his campaign.

It’s implausible that Blagojevich is the first governor to have an assistant run errands or to block a meeting because of politics. He’s accused of federal crimes much worse, including attempting to sell an appointment to Barack Obama’s Senate seat. He’s pleaded not guilty.

But the anecdotes give a glimpse of Blagojevich’s attitude toward an old-school view of politics and government that he promised to eradicate when he took over from George Ryan, the Republican serving federal time for corruption, a prosecution that signaled to Illinois politicians blurring the lines that they faced a new level of legal scrutiny.

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