Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

May 2009 Archives

BY KARA SPAK Staff Reporter

America got a glimpse of former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich in Costa Rica on Thursday when she appeared on MSNBC to promote NBC's upcoming reality show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."

Roland Burris tells the Associated Press today he'll publicize "in the very near future" whether he'll run for a full term in 2010.
Meanwhile, our Springfield reporter Jordan Wilson reports:
SPRINGFIELD -- U.S. Sen. Roland Burris continued to defend himself of pay-to-play allegations Thursday, taking shots at the media and the state's senior U.S. Senator.
Burris came under fire again after a FBI wiretap transcript showed he promised a campaign contribution to the man who appointed him, the now-indicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
In the Nov. 13 conversations, Burris tells the ex-governor's brother that he would "personally do something OK? And it will come to you before the 15th of December."Burris was referencing a promised donation of $1,500, a figure his lawyer confirmed.
Burris said Thursday that he has been truthful throughout the events leading up to his appointment and in the sworn testimony and affidavits he submitted after. He just wants the public and media to believe him.
"I expect the media and the public to review every word of the transcript and the context," Burris said. "And at the end of the day, I expect both to judge me fairly and to acknowledge I did nothing to curry favor, was not a wiling party in any alleged pay to play scheme and I did not lie to anyone about the events leading to my appointment."
Burris then went a step farther and accused the media of mischaracterizing how he withheld key facts about his appointment during his dealings with a House committee that launched the impeachment case against former Gov. Blagojevich. Burris put the onus on his questioners on the committee.
"You all have got it backwards," Burris said to reporters. "It is not upon a person who is testifying to go out of his way on anything. It is the person who has to ask the questions."
Not only did Burris try to convince members of the press to lighten their coverage, but he also denounced comments made by his fellow U.S. Senator from Illinois, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Durbin said Wednesday that Burris' testimony before the House impeachment panel in January was incomplete and not accurate.
"Senator Durbin's comments are not correct," Burris said sharply. "Please accept Roland Burris' comments rather than Senator Durbin. I answered every question that was asked of me by that committee."


Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) is the target of criticism by both Democrats and Republicans who want to know why the powerful speaker won't give the House a chance to publicly reprimand Burris or call for his ouster.
Three resolutions targeting Burris have had a brick on them in the state House Rules Committee, which Madigan tightly controls, our Springfield reporter Dave McKinney reported today.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker has no intention of letting those resolutions advance to the House floor because Madigan already turned the matter over to a Downstate prosecutor to investigate.
"We dealt with all that in referring the matter over to the Sangamon County state's attorney," Brown said.
Should these resolutions be debated on the House floor?


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The transcript of Chris Matthews' interview with Roland Burris on "Hardball" follows:
MATTHEWS: We begin with Senator Roland Burris. Senator Burris, thank you very much for joining us. You've been on the show before. You're on the phone from Decatur, Illinois. Let me play for you an audio clip where Governor Blagojevich's brother, Robert, talks to you about building up his war chest -- this is back last October -- and you express interest in getting Obama's Senate seat. Let's listen.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH, BROTHER OF GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH: We've had a number of conversations about, you know, anything you might be able to do, you and Fred might be able to do here before the end of the year for Rod. Again, we're trying to get as much as we can in his war chest so that when he has to, you know, disclose in January... (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Senator, what was that conversation about?

SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS (via telephone): Well, Chris, definitely, it was a normal fund-raising conversation. I had supported the governor in previous fund-raising events, and his brother was fund-raising. That's what they do in terms of getting prepared for his run for reelection. And I had not only supported him, but during that period, I had supported other candidates. I told the governor's brother when he called earlier to call me back after November because I was supporting other candidates for the November election. And he called me back after the election. And of course, by that time, I had become very concerned about my interest in getting appointed to the Senate seat, as well as, you know, how could I help him with the fund-raising. And I had come to the conclusion, Chris, that that was not really a wise thing to do, that I could not give money to the governor because I was interested in being appointed to the Senate seat. So on the bottom line, there was no money ever given, nor was there any money ever raised.

MATTHEWS: You told me back in October -- rather, January 16th on this program, on the record, Senator, that they'd never sought anything from you with regard to the Senate seat. And here we have on the tape here a long conversation with the governor's brother, asking you to raise money and you talking about it at length. How can you say that they never sought anything from you?

BURRIS: No, Chris, in terms of that situation, that question never did come up in terms of what the governor was looking for from me. I mean, I stated unequivocally to them that it would be a conflict. I even said, without knowing that this was being taped or knowing anything about pay-to-play, that if I gave any money to the governor, it would look like I was trying to buy the seat. So based on that, we had really no type of improprieties, no type of inconsistency.


BURRIS: And so that -- sure.

MATTHEWS: Let me get the statement. Are you saying that the governor's brother never asked you to raise money?

BURRIS: Oh, sure -- yes, he asked me to raise money.


BURRIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Are you saying that the governor's -- that you didn't tell the governor's brother that you wanted to be appointed to the Senate?

BURRIS: I most certainly did. That's where the conflict come in. And so what I did not want to do...

MATTHEWS: OK, here's a conflict. Here's how you explain the conflict. Let's listen to the clip here, where you talk about being in a dilemma, wanting to help the governor, but you have this dilemma. And here's how you explain it on the FBI tape.


BURRIS: I mean, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.

BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people will say, Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser, and then Rod and I are both going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me and say, yes, what was that all about, Roland? I mean, so Rob, I'm in a -- I'm in a -- a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Why would it be a dilemma for you to raise money for Blagojevich and not get the Senate seat if there's not a quid pro quo, a pay-to-play deal here?

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Why would it be a dilemma for you, Senator, not to get the Senate seat after raising money for Blagojevich?

BURRIS: Chris, it's a very simple process. I was always supportive of the governor. What I was torn from is the fact that I couldn't help the governor, and if I helped him it would create a dilemma for me because if I helped him and then I got appointed -- and by the way, I wasn't even on the governor's radar. I didn't get a -- the governor wasn't even thinking about me. I wasn't number one, number two, number three, number four. And Chris, if the governor had not been arrested, I never would have been appointed to that seat. I did not know that.

MATTHEWS: But why is it a dilemma -- again, Senator, with all respect...

BURRIS: But Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... why is it a dilemma for you if you don't get a Senate seat after you raise money for this guy?

BURRIS: No, no. That doesn't...

MATTHEWS: Why is that a dilemma...

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: ... if it's not a quid pro quo?

BURRIS: No, it's not a quid pro quo. The dilemma was the fact that I wanted to try to help the governor and I couldn't because I wanted to get appointed to the seat. That's clear. If I helped him, then I would be involved in some quid pro quo.


BURRIS: But I wanted to help him and I couldn't.

MATTHEWS: You said that -- no, there's no doubt that you said that earlier. But this is how you conclude your dilemma. "And if I don't get appointed, then my people who are trying to raise money -- I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me, yes, what's that all about Roland? I mean, Rob, I'm in a dilemma." In other words if you don't get the job that you raised the money for, your people are going to be mad at you because they didn't get the Senate seat you were supposed to get out of this deal. How is that not incriminating?

BURRIS: Chris, let me tell you simply this. The people who I talked to and the only people I ever raised money for with the governor was my partner inside the office. The most we ever gave the governor was $5,000.


BURRIS: So there's no way in the world you're going to buy a seat. And I was promising to send my check to the governor, as I had done always...


BURRIS: ... was send him a thousand dollars. Now, if you think I could buy a Senate seat for a thousand dollars, I think that was (INAUDIBLE) mistaken.

MATTHEWS: No, but you went further. Here you are...

BURRIS: But...

MATTHEWS: I'm sorry, Senator. Here you are, going further than the personal money. Here you are, promising personal money...

BURRIS: But that was a -- that was a...

MATTHEWS: ... and also promising a blind fund-raiser using the name of your law partner to avoid being discovered and being involved in this. Here you are, talking about what sounds like a conspiracy to hide the money you're getting for the governor. Here it is, your words.

BURRIS: I know I could give him a check.


BURRIS: Myself.


BURRIS: And -- and my law partner, we were going to try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright, OK, because Tim is not looking for an appointment, OK?


MATTHEWS: So you're going to do a fund-raiser through the law firm using your partner's name. Isn't that covering up your involvement in buying a Senate seat?

BURRIS: No. What I -- what that word should have said that, you know, Tim Wright would give a fund-raiser, not -- it would be in his name. He would give the fund-raiser, not me. But guess what? Tim Wright had already said that he could not give a fund-raiser.

MATTHEWS: Yes, but you don't understand...

BURRIS: I was -- I was -- Chris, I was only placating -- placating the governor's brother. So that's all I was doing. There was no...

MATTHEWS: Well, your problem here, Senator, is this is on tape, and it says, "I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright." In other words, you're doing the fund-raiser. You're raising the money. You're shaking the trees for money for the governor in his reelection. You're coming up with the money, but you're going to use the name of your partner. That sounds like a conspiracy to withhold your identity in this fund-raising scheme.

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: That's what it looks like to a person listening to this.

BURRIS: Yes, but guess what, Chris? Number one, I did not raise a dime because I knew I couldn't raise any money. And after I hung up the telephone from the conversation, I said I couldn't even give him a check.


BURRIS: I couldn't even send my own check.


BURRIS: So based on that, there's no violation of any law, no conspiracy here...


BURRIS: ... of anything of any magnitude because my partner had already stated, you know, on the second telephone call with him that we could not give any funds because we were interested in getting appointed to the seat, and if we did that, it would look like we're trying to buy the seat. But that's... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Here's the problem where it looks like here -- this is further on in the conversation, which was taped by the FBI. This is last October. And here you are later on in this conversation between yourself...

BURRIS: That was in November, Chris.

MATTHEWS: OK, back in November. Here you are, back talking to the governor's brother, where you sort of sum up the two things that are interesting to you here. Let's listen to what you put this together.

BURRIS: And God knows, number one, I want to help Rod. Number two, I also want to -- you know, hope I get into consideration to get that appointment. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, doesn't that sound to the average juror that you're saying you're raising money for the governor and you want the Senate seat as a quid pro quo? Why would you say, number one, I want to help the governor, your brother, number two, I also -- I hope to get this seat in the U.S. Senate? How does that not sound like an offer to raise money to get a job?

BURRIS: Because, Chris, I knew that I had already said before that that I could not raise any money because I was interested in getting the seat. And that's what's clear here. I could not raise money. And that's where my dilemma came in. I wanted to help the governor, but because I wanted the seat, I couldn't do it. That's what that means.


BURRIS: ... and I did not do it, Chris. I did not do it.

MATTHEWS: I know. I know. I know. I'm only talking about what you said. I'm only -- all I have here is the taped conversation. (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You said there would be a dilemma if he didn't deliver the job after you raised the money. If you say it's a dilemma for you not to get the job that you raised the money for, that is another strong indication that it was deal. (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: ... quote your words here. If -- let me -- I'm want to play this tape for you one more time, Senator...

BURRIS: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: ... and give you one more shot at this because everybody's going to read this in the paper tomorrow and hear this on TV tonight. Here's you, explaining why you have a problem raising an open fund-raiser for Blagojevich's brother -- so in other words, doing this in the open -- but why you'd also have a problem if they shut you down and didn't give you the job after you raised the money. This is your further wrinkle here. It looks like you're squeezing this guy. Here it is. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BURRIS: I mean, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.

ROB BLAGOJEVICH: I hear you. No, I hear you.

BURRIS: And if I do that, I guarantee you that that will get out and people will say, Oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser, and then Rod and I are both going to catch hell. And if I do get appointed, that means I bought it. If I don't get appointed, then my people who I'm trying to raise money from are going to look at me and say, yes, what was that all about, Roland? I mean, so Rob, I'm in a -- I'm in a -- a dilemma right now, wanting to help the governor. (END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: It just seems, Senator, like you're covering yourself in the beginning of that comment, and then you're getting to the point of squeezing the guy, saying, Buddy, if I raise you this money, I better well get the seat, because I don't know how else to read it. I'm in a dilemma if you don't deliver the job. (INAUDIBLE) saying it here.

BURRIS: I had no intentions of raising any money for the governor, I told my partners that, because I could not raise any money for the governor. This is why I had that conversation. I did want to help the governor. Please understand. Because I had raised money for not only the governor but for all other kind of candidates. I've raised money for a whole lot of other candidates. But this here was a situation where there was a seat involved. And I couldn't raise any money because, if I did, it would look like I was trying to buy the seat. So that's what I always said, that I could not raise any funds because it would be a situation where I was, you know, trying to get something type of a quid pro quo, and therefore, I could not do it. And I did not do it. I didn't even make a phone call to raise any money. There were no attempts to raise any money.


BURRIS: And I didn't even send a check. After I said I would send my normal thousand dollars to them, after I hung up that phone, I said to myself, Oh, I can't even send is a check because that would be mistaken as some type of a way I'm trying to buy the seat. So I didn't even send a check.

MATTHEWS: Why did you promise him to go to your law partner and have him, or rather Tim Wright, hold a fund-raiser in his name so that you could get political credit for it? Why'd you do that? Was that to cover the evidence?

BURRIS: No, see that comment was that -- you know -- and in his name -- it should have been in his name. And that's what -- Tim had said already to me that he couldn't run a fund-raiser, and I was just placating the governor's brother with that type of statement, knowing that we could not do anything. That was just to placate him.

MATTHEWS: Well, I just want to read you back your words.

BURRIS: Sure. A basically.

MATTHEWS: "And my law partner, we're going to try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright" -- in other words, covering up your role. BURRIS: No, no, no, no, no.

MATTHEWS: Why would you use the phrase "in the name of" if this was on the level?

BURRIS: It should have been -- it should have been -- what I was saying is -- and this is what I was telling the other officials when they looked at this -- that this was the way I was placating the governor. But I was thinking that Tim Wright would send out the -- and he wasn't going to do it. So he would send out the invitations. Tim would put on the fund-raiser. But Tim had already said...

MATTHEWS: Well, did you have the intention of holding a fund-raiser at your law firm?

BURRIS: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

MATTHEWS: So you were bluffing. You were bluffing. You were telling the governor's brother you're going to give him something you weren't going to give him.

BURRIS: Well, that -- I'd already said up above that I couldn't raise any funds for him, so that -- that was just...

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean when you say you're going to -- I don't want to drive this any further. One last time, Senator.


MATTHEWS: You said you're going to use your partner's name in your law firm to hold a fund-raiser. Did you intend at the time you said this to Rob Blagojevich, that you intended to hold a fund-raiser in the name of Tim Wright or not? Did you intend to hold a fund-raiser?

BURRIS: I did not intend...

MATTHEWS: OK, so you were lying -- you were lying to the governor's brother.

BURRIS: I did not intend to hold a fund-raiser for the governor's brother. We were seeking to placate the governor's brother because at that time, it was my intention not to alienate the governor's brother. That's all.

MATTHEWS: So your legal and political defense is that you weren't telling the truth to the governor's brother when you promised to hold a fund-raiser for him. That's your legal and political defense, that you weren't telling the truth.

BURRIS: Well, I was seeking to placate him because there was no way we were going to hold a fund-raiser, nor did we hold a fund-raiser...


BURRIS: ... nor was there any effort to even give a fund-raiser.


BURRIS: Was after that telephone conversation, Chris, nothing took place, absolutely nothing, because...

MATTHEWS: Well, here's the context because I...

BURRIS: We had come to the conclusion that I could not raise any money and nobody in my law firm or in the consulting firm was going to raise any money.



MATTHEWS: Here's what I think is troubling.

BURRIS: Sure. Sure.

MATTHEWS: You start the conversation -- and I appreciate you giving me this exclusive conversation tonight because I've always liked you...


MATTHEWS: ... as a public official, and I think you've had some real guts here.

BURRIS: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: But this is very troubling. Quote, "I know you're calling to tell me you're going to make me a king of the world." That's the first thing you say to Rob (ph) Blagojevich. In other words, you're going to make me the senator. You're going to tell me the good news. And then he starts asking for the money and all this about fund-raising and fund-raising and how you're going to give him a personal check and you're going to set this thing up with your law partner. Then he talks about the 18 fund-raising events he's going to have, and you say, Well, I can join in one of those events, too. So you're offering more money. Then you say, number one, I want Rod -- I want to help the governor, your brother. And number two, I want this job. You're laying in the quid pro quo so clearly. It seems to me you're making it awful clear you want the job, you want to help him raise money, and that is play-to-pay, isn't it?

BURRIS: Chris, go back up to -- go back up -- up to that statement where I say, I cannot give you any money because I'm interested in getting appointed to the Senate seat.


MATTHEWS: You didn't want to be caught doing it, is what you're saying.

BURRIS: No, no, no. I -- because I didn't. I even told my partners that. I told my law partners...


MATTHEWS: ... then why did you go -- OK, you give three indications that it's about appearances. One, you talk about appearances. And then you say your real concern...

BURRIS: No, this is -- this is a conversation...

MATTHEWS: ... is that your money people are going to be disappointed that you went out and hit them up for money but you didn't get the Senate seat. Then you talk about wiring the money through your law partner. Then you talk about making a personal contribution. Then you talk about coming back and hitting in some of these fund-raisers that they're holding and giving them further money. Then lay down the quid pro quo rather directly, saying, One, I want to help your brother. Two, I want this job. I mean, you're laying it in so clearly. It's very hard not to see the deal here.

BURRIS: Chris, there was no deal. That's what I was seeking to avoid. There was no deal.


BURRIS: I knew that I could not do anything because of the potential of a quid pro quo.


BURRIS: That's why I didn't do anything.

MATTHEWS: The last thing you say on the phone was... (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: ... not even knowing that this was taped -- hold on a minute, Chris. Not even knowing that this was being taped or anything else, I had the foresight to say, even to my partners, Look, I can't give any money to the governor. It'll be look like I'm trying to buy this seat.


BURRIS: And therefore, I didn't. That's the bottom line. Nothing was ever...

MATTHEWS: OK, again...

BURRIS: Nothing was ever given...


BURRIS: ... nor was there any attempt to make a phone call.

MATTHEWS: I don't know how this is going to go down in court. I do know that you promised the governor's brother that you'd raise money through your law firm, through the name of your partner, Tim Wright. You're now telling me that wasn't the truth. You weren't -- you did not, even at the moment you said that, intended to raise the money. That was just to...

BURRIS: Well...

MATTHEWS: ... as you put it, to placate him. But at the end of your conversation, the last thing you said to the governor's brother last fall was, And I will personally do something, OK? So you're again committing yourself to a personal contribution, in addition to the attempt you -- well, you now say was just BS, basically, that you never intended to raise the money through the law firm. And you promised to go to the fund-raisers, some of the 18 fund-raisers he was holding. And what else? And you were concerned at the appearances.

BURRIS: No, no...

MATTHEWS: That's clear. You were worried about exposure here.

BURRIS: And the other issue was at the last, when I said, I will send my check by December 15th, was the fact that I had promised him in our second conversation that I would -- I had given him a thousand dollars in June and I was planning to send a thousand dollars.


BURRIS: Now, Chris, if I could buy the Senate seat for a thousand dollars, I think that that would, you know, be pretty miraculous.


BURRIS: My sending a check on the 15th would have been a thousand dollar check. After I hung up the phone, my assessment was, I can't do that. And I didn't do that. I did not send a check.

MATTHEWS: OK, last question, Senator.


MATTHEWS: What do you think the average Joe out there in Chicago thinks after hearing that you were getting hit up by the governor's brother for money, and you're promising... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: No, what do you think he thinks happened here? Do you think the average person in Chicago, as much moxie as they have, thinks what was on here was a fiddle, that there was a deal here for you to help them raise money and you got the job?

BURRIS: Chris...

MATTHEWS: Do you think the average person is going to buy your argument that these are unrelated, that you just convinced the governor's brother, who's tough as nails, that you're going to ray the money but you're really not going to do it?

BURRIS: And I didn't do it.

MATTHEWS: You think people are going to believe that?

BURRIS: Chris, I didn't do it. I didn't even make a move to raise one dime for the governor's brother. There was no attempt...


BURRIS: ... no overt act, no anything because I told him I could not. And I was letting everybody that I talked to... (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: ... was interested in getting appointed to the Senate seat.

MATTHEWS: OK, my problem with you, Senator -- is you're a fine gentleman, you've had a great year, history of public service. Let me tell you this. I asked you on this program January 16th, did the governor ever ask you for anything? And you gave me an answer about how, I never talked to the governor.

BURRIS: Well, but that was... (CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And then you said, He never -- he sought nothing from me. He sought nothing...

BURRIS: Chris, the governor never asked me for anything.

MATTHEWS: Well, what did his brother ask you for?

BURRIS: Well, the governor was trying to raise funds. Like, he was calling, you know, 1,800 other people.


BURRIS: He was raising funds.

MATTHEWS: So what's the difference between the governor's brother asking you for money and you telling me that the governor didn't ask you for anything?

BURRIS: Because he didn't!

MATTHEWS: Isn't there a conflict there?

BURRIS: The governor -- the governor -- Chris, the governor never asked me for anything.

MATTHEWS: Well, what did his brother ask you for?

BURRIS: Oh, oh, oh, well, the -- oh, well, the governor was trying to raise funds. Like, he was calling, you know, 1,800...


BURRIS: ... 1,800 other people. I mean, he was raising funds.

MATTHEWS: So, what's the difference between the governor's brother asking you for money and you telling me that the governor didn't ask you for anything?

BURRIS: Because he didn't.

MATTHEWS: Isn't there a conflict there?

BURRIS: No, the governor didn't ask me for anything.

MATTHEWS: He had his brother do it.

BURRIS: Well, look, I -- I support all kind of candidates, Chris, in terms of fund-raisers.

MATTHEWS: Yes. Right.

BURRIS: Candidates called me all over, and I helped a whole lot of them with funds.


BURRIS: And, so, and then I don't -- I don't believe -- I don't consider that as asking for anything...


BURRIS: ... because I knew that the Senate seat was -- was -- was...


BURRIS: ... was -- that the Senate seat was in -- in play here...

MATTHEWS: The problem is, Senator, this tape -- I have the transcript in my hand -- is back and forth throughout your conversation with the governor's brother you wanting the Senate seat, them wanting money. You want the Senate seat, they wanting money, that is the cadence of that conversation.

BURRIS: And guess what? And guess what, Chris?

MATTHEWS: It's in the context of a deal.

BURRIS: Chris?

MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

BURRIS: Chris, absolutely. And, Chris, I -- I could certainly -- and you can see where I said that I couldn't give any money because it would look like I would be buying the seat.


BURRIS: So, that would clear that up. (CROSSTALK)

BURRIS: I mean, I was able to be -- to be -- have foresight to be able to do that. And there were some hundred -- 150 people were on -- were -- were on -- on -- on...


BURRIS: ... the governor's fund-raising list. I mean, they were just calling people to raise funds, because that was his whole agenda, to raise funds.


BURRIS: But in -- in terms of my situation...

MATTHEWS: Well, Senator...

BURRIS: Chris, listen one minute -- that I could not give anything, because I did not want to be a part of a pay-to-play. It's clear in that -- in that testimony. I didn't want to be considered like I'm trying to buy the seat.


BURRIS: Any contribution I would have given would mean that I was trying to be -- and that's the reason why I didn't give any money. There's no money even sent, no money even called to raise.

MATTHEWS: OK. Well, as you say -- as you say, you never intended to make good on the deal you -- you -- you made with the governor's brother.

BURRIS: No -- no intentions whatsoever.

MATTHEWS: You told me you -- you were just placating him; it was just to make it look like you were interested in raising money; you didn't intend to. Senator Roland Burris, sir, thank you for joining us tonight on HARDBALL.

BURRIS: Thank you so much, Chris. I really appreciate it. Thank you, man.

MATTHEWS: Thank you, sir. When we return...

BURRIS: All right.

MATTHEWS: ... we will dissect what we have heard just now from the senator with two Chicago reporters. And, later, the battle is on over President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. The right and the left are agitating already. You're watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

Burris on tape

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Audio of the wire-tapped phone call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich has been made public.
The audio was recently posted on the U.S. District Court's Web site. It details a Nov. 13 conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich in which Burris talks about donating to ex-governor Rod Blagojevich. A transcript of the FBI wiretapped call was released yesterday and shows that Burris feared he'd be shunned publicly if he donated to the governor while he sought the appointment.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment," Burris can be heard saying on tape. "If I do get appointed, that means I bought it." Burris ends the conversation saying he'll send Rod Blagojevich a check by Dec. 15.
Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said he welcomed the public disclosure of the audio.
"I want the world to hear my client and how he conducts himself," Ettinger said. Ettinger said it shows there was no quid pro quo and that his client was not pressuring Burris.
Burris says he wants to be in consideration for the appointment while making a donation. Robert Blagojevich can be heard warning Burris not to get his hopes up too high: "I want to manage expectations." He also tells Burris to do what he's comfortable doing.

Patti report: She's in the jungle

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Patti Blagojevich, daughter of a powerful alderman, wife of a onetime governor, has officially landed in the jungle.

From the Publicity Agency, which is handling Patti and Rod's PR:

PRNewsChannel) / Chicago, Ill. / Embracing her new role as reality show contestant, the former First Lady of Illinois is on her way to Costa Rica to compete in an NBC reality show.

Her email autoresponder now says: 'I will be out of the office and in the jungle until further notice.'

"Patti is going to compete because this is what a mom does for her kids and for her family," says Glenn Selig, founder of The Publicity Agency and spokesman for Patti and her husband Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor.

Patti accepted an offer from NBC to go to Costa Rica when a judge said the former governor who has been indicted could not travel out of the country, says Selig.

"On the show her strategy is to be herself. She's funny, witty and I think extremely likeable."

Based on the hit U.K. reality show, "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" is a groundbreaking live series event that premieres June 1 on NBC.

Celebrities of various backgrounds will be dropped into the heart of the Costa Rican jungle. They will face challenges designed to test their skills in adapting to the wilderness and to raise money for their favorite charities. It's the ultimate Swiss Family Robinson as participants face fun and comedic challenges designed to test their survival skills.

"Patti may be adventurous but at most she's only spent one night camping," says Selig. "She is a 'big city girl' and this will be challenging."

America is the puppet master, controlling their favorites by putting them into challenges and tasks to win food, supplies and luxury items by casting votes.

"Patti hopes the public votes to keep her in Costa Rica because the longer she stays the more money she raises for charity," says Selig.

Here's the Burris audio

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Listen to the recording

And this is what Burris said in a Feb. 4 sworn affidavit:
I recall that Gov. Blagojevich's brother, Rob Blagojevich, called me three times to seek my assistance in fund-raising for Gov. Blagojevich. The first conversation was in early Oct. 2008, and he other two were shortly after the election. During the first conversation I asked Rob Blagojevich what was going on with the selection of a successor if then-Sen. Obama were elected President, and he said he had heard my name mentioned in the discussions. In one of the other conversations (I believe the last one), I mentioned the Senate seat in the context of saying that I could not contribute to Gov. Blagojevich because it could be viewed as an attempt to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to President Obama. I did not raise or donate any funds to Gov. Blagojevich after the fund-raiser on June 27, 2008.

Burris testy with media this morning

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By Jordan Wilson
Sun-Times Staff Reporter
URBANA -- Roland Burris denied wrongdoing Wednesday in his clouded appointment to the U.S. Senate seat, despite the release Tuesday of FBI wiretap transcripts that showed he was open to donating money to the now-indicted governor who appointed him.
The new details re-opened public scrutiny on the embattled Burris, who stormed off only three minutes into a 10-minute media availability Wednesday.
Burris said the impeachment panel that questioned him in January did not ask him "whether or not there was anything dealing with fund-raising."
"If I were asked that question at the impeachment hearing, I would have dealt with those things," Burris said. "I was not asked that question. Please check the transcripts."
In the Nov. 13 wiretap, Burris was recorded talking with Rob Blagojevich, the brother of the impeached governor.
The transcript details the two talking about Burris‚ willingness to contribute to the governor, and the possible improprieties of doing so while Burris was interested in the vacant U.S. Senate seat.
But Burris ends the conversation saying: "I will personally do something OK? And it will come to you before the 15th of December."
Burris side-stepped direct questions about the issue Wednesday, but said he did not hide those details.
"There was no attempt to do any, wheeling and dealing to not disclose," Burris said while weeding through reporters to his maroon SUV. "That did not take place."

U.S. District Court Clerk Michael Dobbins said the court will make audio available on its Web site at 3 p.m.

The Sun-Times will also have it available on its Web site at at that time.

Stay tuned

Federal Courts Reporter

Audio of the wire-tapped phone call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich will not be made public -- at least for now, a spokesman for federal prosecutors in Chicago said today.
U.S. Attorney's spokesman Randall Samborn said his office is not releasing the audio of the Burris conversation, citing a court order that authorized its release to the U.S. Senate ethics committee -- but not to the public.
A transcript of the calls were made available by the court and docketed, which is why that was public yesterday, Samborn said.
A transcript of the Nov. 13 conversation between Burris and Robert Blagojevich was released yesterday showing that Burris feared he'd be shunned publicly if he donated to the governor while he sought the appointment.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment," Burris said.
"If I do get appointed, that means I bought it." Burris ends the conversation saying he'll send Rod Blagojevich a check by Dec. 15.
Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, said he supports releasing audio of the tape, saying the tape is favorable to his client.
"There's not one word about quid pro quo," Ettinger said. "There's no pressure. It shows that he wasn't pressuring Burris at all."

Here's judge's order releasing Burris tape

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Here's U.S. District Judge James Holderman's order, including his legal reasoning for releasing the recording to the U.S. Senate ethics committee.

Burris transcript: Vindicating? Or eyebrow-raising?

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Roland Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright, said Tuesday the release of the transcript would finally settle questions about the junior Senator from Illinois.
But two members of the Illinois house impeachment panel said the tape raised additional questions. One member said it showed Burris was not truthful in his Jan. 8 testimony to the panel.

In the tape of a Nov. 13 conversation between Robert Blagojevich and Burris, Burris talks extensively of ways he could donate to the governor without it making him look bad publicly.

Consider these exchanges:
BURRIS: God knows number one, I, I wanna help Rod. Number two, I also wanna, you know hope I get a consideration to get that appointment.
BURRIS: And I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment.
BlAGOJEVICH: I hear ya. No, I hear ya.
BURRIS: And, and if I do that I guarantee you that, that will get out and people said, oh, Burris is doing a fund-raiser ad, and then Rod and I both gonna catch hell.
BURRIS: And if I do get appointed that means I bought it.
BURRIS: If I don't get appointed then my people who I'm trying to riase money from are gonna look at me, yeah, what what's that all about Roland. I mean, so, Rob, I'm in a I'm in a, a dilemma right now wanting to help the governor.
BURRIS: I know I could give him a check.
BURRIS: Myself
BURRIS: And, and my law partner we were gonna try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright.
BURRIS: Okay, 'cause Tim is not looking for an appointment, okay.

Read for yourself (go to page 12) burristranscript.pdf

A transcript of the Nov. 13 conversation between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich indicates that Burris fears a donation to the governor has the negative connotation that: "Burris is trying to buy an appointment," Burris tells Robert Blagojevich.
"I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in consideration for the appointment."
"If I do get appointed, that means I bought it," Burris said if a donation were known.
The bombshell of the transcript? Burris suggested he could help Blagojevich through his lawyer. "My law partner, we were gonna try to do something through the law firm," Burris said. "I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright."
Wright told me moments ago that the reference to his name was not for a third party contribution.
"He asked me if I would do a fund-raiser and I told him absolutely not and I said he shouldn't do it either," Wright said of the reference to his name in the transcript. "That's what that's about."
Both Wright and Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, did not oppose the release of the tape today in court.
"I have no objection to these tapes being released or played to the public," Ettinger said.

The U.S. Attorney's office is expected to release audio and transcript of the conversation today.
The recorded call between Roland Burris and Robert Blagojevich took place Nov. 13 on the Friends of Blagojevich land line, which was tapped by the FBI.
The Senate ethics panel asked the U.S. Attorney's office for the tapes in March, according to an opinion released today by Judge James Holderman.
The panel launched a preliminary inquiry into the "circumstances surrounding the appointment and seating of Senator Roland Burris," according to Holderman's opinion.

Burris tapes to be released today

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We're closer to getting the tape...Judge Holderman just handed me (personally) his order unsealing the Burris tape ... The government needed that to unseal the transcript and audio of Burris.

Details coming...


In a November conversation caught on an FBI wiretap, Roland Burris promised
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother that he'd write the governor a campaign check
by mid-December, Burris' lawyer said today.
That was about a month before Rod Blagojevich appointed Burris to the U.S.
But lawyer Timothy Wright told the Chicago Sun-Times today that his client
never sent the check because he believed it wasn't a good idea given Burris'
interest in the U.S. Senate seat appointment. Wright said Burris' decision
not to send the check had nothing to do with Blagojevich's Dec. 9 arrest.
Burris made his decision before the arrest, Wright said.
"Sen. Burris, as he said, decided he couldn't send a check because it
wouldn't look good," Wright said.
Burris did not mention a promise of a check in a Feb. 4 sworn affidavit that
Burris submitted to an Illinois House panel investigating Rod Blagojevich's
impeachment. That affidavit sought to supplement Burris' testimony before a
House panel, where Burris only mentioned having contact with Lon Monk with
regard to the appointment.
But Wright said the amount of the check was to be $1,500. The conversation
with Robert Blagojevich happened when Burris was interested in the U.S.
Senate. Wright said Burris' answers to the House panel have been
consistent, and he has made repeated efforts to be as complete as possible
to the public.
Wright scoffed at the notion that a promise of a check was part of any
pay-to-play scheme.
"Fifteen hundred dollars? Come on" Wright said. "Burris had been a
fund-raiser in years past. This had nothing to do with pay-to-play."
Today in court, Wright did not oppose the release of the tape to a U.S.
Senate Ethics panel. Wright said he believes the tape will vindicate his
"It's good to get the facts out," Wright said. "It's just really good to get
the truth out."
U.S. District Judge James Holderman said in court today he would unseal the
tape and transcript of a November conversation between Burris and Robert
Blagojevich, who chaired the ex-governor's campaign fund.
Both Wright and Robert Blagojevich's attorney, Michael Ettinger, did not oppose the release of the tape today in court.
"I have no objection to these tapes being released or played to the public," Ettinger said.
Burris came under fire in February after the Sun-Times disclosed the Feb. 4
affidavit, which was not previously made public. The Senate Ethics Committee
is investigating whether Burris misled the public in different sworn
affidavits and testimony to that impeachment panel.
The Sun-Times previously reported that Burris appeared to have an unmet
fund-raising commitment with Blagojevich. A list of potential donors, dated Dec. 3, contains an entry targeting Burris for up to $10,000 and indicates Burris intended to "call back with a date," presumably concerning fund-raising.
In a Jan. 5 affidavit Burris told the committee: "Prior to the December 26,
2008 telephone call from Mr. [Sam] Adams, Jr., there was not any contact
between myself or any of my representatives with Governor Blagojevich or any
of his representatives regarding my appointment to the United States
Adam is a member of Rod Blagojevich's legal team.
Wright said that affidavit had to do solely with the actual appointment.
Because Burris wasn't even in consideration until after the ex-governor was
charged, he didn't detail conversations with Rod Blagojevich's aides or
brother, Wright said.
Then, this is what Burris said in his amended affidavit Feb. 4:
"I recall that Governor Blagojevich's brother, Rob Blagojevich, called me
three times to seek my assistance in fund-raising for Governor Blagojevich.
"I mentioned the Senate seat in the context of saying that I could not
contribute to Governor Blagojevich because it could be viewed as an attempt
to curry favor with him regarding his decision to appoint a successor to
President Obama," Burris wrote. "I did not raise or donate any funds to
Governor Blagojevich after the fundraiser on June 27, 2008."
During the Jan. 8 appearance before the impeachment committee, Burris was
asked to identify all Blagojevich emissaries with whom he spoke ‹ including
Robert Blagojevich. Burris only named Lon Monk. Burris insisted during that
testimony there was no quid pro quo with Blagojevich regarding the


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A federal judge today OK'd the release of a secret FBI wiretap involving U.S. Sen. Roland Burris and Rod Blagojevich's brother to a U.S. Senate committee investigating Burris.

The conversation is at issue because the committee is probing whether Burris was misleading during his testimony before an Illinois House impeachment panel. A Downstate prosecutor is also investigating whether Burris perjured himself.

Burris' lawyer, Timothy Wright, said the tapes will vindicate his client.
"I think the Senator told the truth the whole time and I think the tapes will indicate such."
In court, Wright did not oppose the tape's release.
"Senator Burris is not objecting to the Senate Ethics Committee hearing the tape," Wright said.
U.S. District Judge James Holderman made the issue public this morning. Myself and an AP reporter were inside the courtroom before the hearing but were asked to leave because the hearing was closed.
We left and Holderman asked prosecutors and defense laweyrs if they opposed unsealing the matter. No one opposed it, so Holderman opened the courtroom doors.

Here's the latest: Burris tapes to be public

In the most revealing interview she's given since her husband's Dec. 9 arrest, Patti Blagojevich told the Sun-Times her love for Rod Blagojevich has not wavered.
"Through thick and thin. You're married. You made a commitment to someone. I love my husband. He's a devoted husband, a great father. He's loyal, hardworking," Patti Blagojevich told the Sun-Times. "I don't see why these circumstances -- which were wholly beyond our control, rained down on us -- would affect our relationship."
As she prepared to appear as a contestant on a reality TV show, Patti said her chief concern is for her two daughters.
"The big challenge is keeping things as normal for them as possible" she said. "That's why I'm doing the show. We're going to try as hard as we can to keep them in the same school they've been in since they were toddlers, to keep that kind of stability in their lives. That's why I would consider anything like that."
Mrs. Blagojevich said fears that a lack of income will create instability for her kids. She said she's doing the show, in part, to help keep the family in the same Ravenswood Manor home as well as afford the $20,000 annual tuition it costs to put both her daughters in private school.

Patti prepares for jungle with 100 degree yoga

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Associated Press Writer
CHICAGO (AP) ‹ Former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich is confident she
has the necessary experience to make it in a Costa Rican jungle where she¹ll
soon appear on a reality TV show.
³After being in, you know, Chicago and Illinois politics for this many
years, the jungle doesn¹t seem too scary,² Blagojevich said Friday during an
interview on Chicago¹s WVON radio.
Blagojevich is making the media rounds touting her upcoming stint on NBC¹s
³I¹m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here.² She¹ll appear on the show because
a federal judge barred her husband, ousted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, from
going, saying he should stay home and concentrate on his defense in the
federal corruption case against him.
The former governor has pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to
auction off the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama and
used the power of the governor¹s office to squeeze campaign contributions.
Both Blagojeviches are unemployed and Patti Blagojevich has said she
probably wouldn¹t have considered appearing on reality TV if it weren¹t for
her family¹s financial situation. She won¹t divulge how much she¹ll be paid.
The show airs June 1 and Patti Blagojevich is preparing for her trek to the
She has gotten the necessary travel vaccinations and has attended yoga
classes inside a room heated to more than 100 degrees to help her acclimate
to Costa Rica¹s hot weather.
Blagojevich is allowed to bring one luxury item and she said she¹s thinking
about taking a pillow. The only other things she can pack are three changes

Patti's jungle adventure might be tame

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Patti Blagojevich went on the "Today Show" this morning to formally announce she'll be a contestant on "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here."
The show is expected to begin filming next month in the Costa Rican jungles.
While there was talk that contestants would have to drink out of a basin containing goat intestines and other disgusting acts, I'm told that's now changed.
NBC executives have assured her that she would not have to do anything too disgusting ... or degrading.
Said her supporting husband: "She's willing to go in the jungle for her kids."
This blog first reported Patti Blagojevich's intent on doing the reality show last week, read: Patti will do reality show

Big day in Blago family

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Not just another Wednesday for Mr. and Mrs. Blagojevich.
While Patti Blagojevich is flying out to Los Angeles today to finalize plans to be a contestant on "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," Rod Blagojevich is meeting his book deadline, which is today.
The ex-governor's wife plans to film some promotions for the show and is expected to sign the contract while she's out west.
The prime-time NBC show will start filming in June in Costa Rica.

Blago lawyer: "I'm ready to go."

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Sam Adam Jr., attorney of R&B star R. Kelly, says he's ready to dig into the sweeping case against former Rod Blagojevich.
"I'm ready to go," Adam Jr. told me after formally filing his intent to be Blagojevich's lawyer with the court today.
This blog reported Friday that Adam Jr. and his father officially agreed to do the case. Adam said he expected his father would tomorrow formally file his "appearance" or his intent on acting as another Blagojevich lawyer.
Judge James Zagel is allowing three lawyers represent Blagojevich (the other is Shelly Sorosky) and will authorize their payments from the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund. The rate is $110 an hour.

Lawyer: Patti will do reality show

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A lawyer who represents Rod Blagojevich and is close to the Blagojevich family just told me that it's looking like Patti Blagojevich will appear as a contestant on the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!"
Sheldon Sorosky said the former Illinois first lady is expected to fly out to Los Angeles this week to sign a contract to do the show her husband was barred from doing because it's being filmed out of the country.
"It appears she's going to do it," Sorosky said when asked if Patti Blagojevich was really on board. "She'll go out mid-week to sign a contract."
His reaction? "I've always said the family should follow Judge Zagel's sage advice and prepare for trial," Sorosky said.
The Sun-Times reported Friday that plans were in the works for Patti Blagojevich to appear on the show in her husband's stead.
Zagel last month blocked the former governor from being a contestant on the NBC primetime show that starts filming in a few weeks in Costa Rica. Because of the federal charges against him, Rod Blagojevich needed approval to leave the country.
Patti Blagojevich has not been charged in the case, but her real estate dealings with convicted businessman Tony Rezko were referenced in her husband's indictment.
Patti Blagojevich's appearance could prove to be colorful. She was caught cussing on secret FBI wiretaps that were publicly released.

'Bleep'n Golden' Blago Shampoo

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ELK GROVE, Ill., May 14 (UPI) -- An Illinois company is marketing hair care products inspired by and named after disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Dennis Fath of Delta Laboratories in the Chicago suburb of Elk Grove said he "woke up in the middle of the night" with the idea for "Blago It's Bleep'n Golden Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner," WMAQ-TV, Chicago, reported Thursday.

"He does have a nice head of hair, and (I thought) it would be funny to have something named after him because of his hair," Fath said.

Fath said the shampoo and conditioner sell for $8 each, or $15 for a set of both. He said the products, which are only available at, have so far sold fewer than 100 bottles.

R. Kelly lawyers: 'We're in.'

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The theatrical father-and-son team Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr., best known for defending R. Kelly, told me today they are officially on board Blago's case.
"We're in," Adam Jr. said. "My father and I are planning to file our appearances Monday or Tuesday."
The firm decision comes after a Friday meeting among the lawyers in the case.
They join Shelly Sorosky as a team of three to represent ousted governor Rod Blagojevich. They expect to ask Judge James Zagel to appoint a fourth lawyer, Allan Ackerman, to handle the voluminous paper in the case.
"He is legal giant. We're going to need someone who's had experience with cases like this," Adam Jr. said.

The Adams, along with veteran attorney Ed Genson, were part of the trial team representing R&B singer R. Kelly, who beat sex charges last year.
"We are before one of the best federal judges that anyone can hope for," Adam Jr. said.

Here's how the Blago team is shaping up

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Attorneys in the Rod Blagojevich case met this morning to hash out a legal team strategy.
"We're in," Sam Adam Jr. just told me.
"My father and I are planning to file our appearances Monday or Tuesday."
Here's how the team is shaping up according to lawyers at the meeting this morning:
Sam Adam Jr. will be in the day-to-day control of the case along with his father, Sam Adam, and Shelly Sorosky, who has been on board with the governor since day one.
"They never left," Sorosky said of the Adams, who played a hand in the legal team when Blagojevich faced impeachment. "I think they will be on board, yes."
The Adams father-and-son team, best known for their work in the R. Kelly trial -- as well as Sorosky -- are expected to be the trial lawyers.
Allan Ackerman: The defense wants him to be the point-person on writing motions and sorting through documents. However, Judge James Zagel said he would only agree to appoint three lawyers to the case. He did leave the door open to appointing a fourth lawyer -- not for trial -- but to help work through the immense amount of evidence.
Sam Adam Jr. told me earlier this week he was "champing at the bit," to be Rod Blagojevich's lawyer.

Patti might go to the jungle

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Today, we report that Patti Blagojevich may take her husband's spot on the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"
Patti is en route to Los Angeles to hash out the details with NBC executives.
But should a former first lady appear on a Survivor-styled television show when her husband faces criminal trial?
I'm told there have been ongoing discussions between the Blagojeviches and NBC about not making Patti do anything "disgusting."
Does that include eating insects?
Stay tuned.

They're well-known for being part of the trial team that beat sex charges against R&B star R. Kelly.
Now, Sam Adam Jr. and Sam Adam Sr. might be ready to take on the case of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Sam Adam Jr. told me yesterday he's "champing at the bit," to do the case.

Read more: Father-and-son team might defend Blago

Prosecutors: Blago evidence is "manageable"

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Prosecutors say the evidence they've turned over to defendants in the Blagojevich case is actually pretty manageable.
That's in response to all the griping from defense lawyers that the mountain of evidence turned over by the government would take 51 years for a lawyer to review.
"In short, the discovery in the instant case is manageable and not as
complicated as the defendants suggest," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar wrote in a court filing.
Prosecutors seem to tell Judge Zagel that the millions of documents and 400 hours of recordings sounds more daunting than it is. They say they turned over a detailed index, making it easy for lawyers to search through and that they've turned over stuff in an electronic format -- which is easily searchable.

Further, they say that a good number of the documents were turned over in an abundance of caution. "It should not take long for the defendants' counsel to quickly
determine that many of the documents are not relevant to their defense," prosecutors wrote.
"This is not a situation in which the government simply tendered boxes of unlabeled documents to the defense," they say.

How fast can you spend $2.3 million?

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If there's $2.3 million in the Friends of Blagojevich fund, how long would it take three lawyers to run through it at $110 an hour?
The computations come after a judge said he'd appoint three lawyers to represent Blago.
• If three lawyers are paid $110 an hour and each bill 40 hours a week, that's $13,200 a week.
• If all three work 52 weeks a year at that pace, that's $686,400 annually.
• $2.3 million divided by $686,400 brings us to 3.3 years.
• If the defense got what they wanted -- seven lawyers (four for trial and three others for prep) they'd potentially burn through $30,800, a week.

BUT, there's many other variables.
• Defense lawyers say they'd likely bill 30 hours a week per atty (not 40).
• Judge James Zagel said he'd consider appointing a fourth lawyer -- not for trial -- to oversee evidence.
• He also said he'd allow additional contract lawyers to be paid through the fund in preparation for trial. He said they were likely to make "significantly less," than the $110/hour.
• Lawyers representing the interests of Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund say there's other overhead costs to pay.
• Blago lawyer Shelly Sorosky wants to also tap the fund to pay for office space where the defense can set up camp and house hundreds of thousands of pages of documents.
• Assistant U.S. Atty Reid Schar said the fund was meant for Blagojevich's future runs for governor: "That is now never going to happen, ever again," Schar said of the impeached ex-governor.

Judge: Blagojevich can have three lawyers

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1-2 podgo blago 3.JPG


Saying it was more lawyers that he's ever appointed to a case, U.S. District Judge James Zagel agreed this morning to let ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich have three lawyers for trial and additional lawyers on contract for his trial preparation.
Zagel said he usually appoints one lawyer for a case.
The usual exception is a Death Penalty case. And those defendants get two lawyers, said.
The three will be appointed to the case and be paid through the campaign fund at the rate controlled by Zagel -- $110 an hour. When the $2.3 million Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund runs out of cash, the judge is likely to tap taxpayer dollars to bankroll the former governor's defense.
Zagel said he couldn't recall a case where he's appointed three lawyers. Even in death penalty cases, he's only appointed two, he said.
"I'm preparing to go to an ... exceptional number of lawyers and that is three," Zagel said. "I've never authorized more than two."
If Blago were paying for his defense from his own, personal money, he could have whatever number of lawyers he chose. But Blago says he's out of money and wants to tap the campaign fund -- something the government had opposed, or, at least wanted controlled.
On Friday, Blago's lawyers said it would take them 51 years to get through the 3 million documents and 400 hours of evidence the government had turned over.
Father and son team Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. are the likely additions to Shelly Sorosky, who is now the only official lawyer. The Adams were both in court today as "observers," but said they're likely to join the case.
The defense was hoping for four lawyers to be appointed-- with the fourth being veteran attorney Allan Ackerman.
Zagel said he'd consider a fourth lawyer for trial preparation only, someone who could oversee all of the evidence.
The time before trial is what's important, Sam Adam Sr. said.
"The trial is not the problem. It's the preparation for trial," he said.
He joked about adding Manny Ramirez to the trial team since he's got some time on his hands these days.
Said Sorosky: "We may have to put a lawyer on steroids just to do this."

Today: Judge to hear out Blago lawyers

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The ex-gov's lawyers will be in court today to ask a judge how many of them he will appoint to attack 3 million pages of discovery and at least 400 hours of audio tape.
On Friday, Blagojevich's lawyers said it would take one lawyer 51 years to get through the evidence.
Since their client is hard up on cash, his lawyers and potential lawyers agreed to be paid out of the campaign fund but at the rate of a public defender -- $110 an hour.


Blago's lawyers said today it would take one lawyer 51 years to get through all the evidence the feds have turned over against the former governor.
In a filing where defense lawyers for Rod Blagojevich say they'll accept $110-hour pay (as this blog reported here earlier this week) they tell a judge they've received 1 million pages of documents and 400 hours of tapes. The filing also reveals that due to grand jury subpoenas, the Office of the Governor "has provided approximately 2 million documents to the government." Those 2 million documents are in the hands of Winston & Strawn, Blago's previous lawyers, according to the filing.
This comes after Judge Zagel said he would decide how many lawyers should be appointed to the case, in part, based on how much evidence there is.
Attorneys Michael Ettinger and Sheldon Sorosky asked Zagel to appoint a
"sufficient number of attorneys so that the massive amount of discovery can be read and the tapes can be digested within a reasonable amount of time and Defendant Rod Blagojevich be afforded effective assistance of counsel."
This blog reported earlier this week that the defense would give up its claim on the $2.3 million fund and instead allow Zagel authority to dole it out to them for attorneys fees -- at $110 an hour.
That is, until it runs out. Then the lawyers would be paid through taxpayer funds.
The judge has this kind of control because Blagojevich says he doesn't have money to fund his defense.
Prosecutors opposed the defense having complete control over the campaign fund, saying it was subject to government seizure. They asked Zagel for limitations on how defense lawyers would be paid and how many of them would be paid through the fund.
There's a hearing in the case Monday.

Government seeks to file Cellini papers under seal

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In a court filing this afternoon, prosecutors asked a judge to file a 23-page motion regarding Downstate developer William Cellini under seal.

The filings regarding Cellini have been under seal as his lawyers cite sensitive wiretapped information. But the overhears involving Cellini date back to the investigation of Tony Rezko. Cellini was caught on numerous tapes with state board member and prominent fund-raiser Stuart Levine. Levine, a chief cooperator who has admitted to a litany of crime, was the key witness in last summer's trial against Rezko.
Conversations between Cellini and Levine were played at Rezko's trial. The content under seal is presumably new material.

Should state clear out 3,000 Blago/Ryan appointees?

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to fire 3,000 state appointees who are holdovers from former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich.
He has vowed to move legislation that would purge the posts and allow Gov. Quinn to reappoint or rehire.
"I'm not satisfied by the pace of change, and I want to accelerate the pace of change," Madigan told reporters today, according to a story written by Sun-Times reporters Dave McKinney and Jordan Wilson.
The legislation proposed by Madigan (D-Chicago) would cover about 90 state boards and commissions, all Cabinet-level appointees that require state Senate confirmation, and state employees in Rutan- exempt political hiring positions. Those covered under the legislation would be permitted to serve for up to 60 days after the effective date.
Some Ryan holdovers may have been in their jobs for 10 years by now.

Is this a good proposal?

Here's the story from our Springfield Reporters: Madigan vows to clear out government appointees

Judge denies new sentencing date for Blago pal

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A longtime friend of ex-governor Rod Blagojevich will be sentenced by month's end as planned. Christopher Kelly lost a bid to push the sentencing to October. He asked for the extension because since pleading guilty to the tax fraud charges he was hit with two more indictments -- including one in which he was charged along with Blagojevich.
Sources told the Sun-Times Kelly had some discussions with the government -- the first sign he's flirted with the idea of flipping. But sources also said Wednesday Kelly believes he could wage a fight against the charges in the Blagojevich indictment.
Kelly's lawyer, Michael Monico, told the Sun-Times Tuesday that he's reached no agreement with prosecutors.
"We are facing two upcoming trials and nothing has been decided. The government and Mr. Kelly have not reached any agreements. Mr. Kelly at this point is proceeding to review the evidence in the two pending (cases)."
In denying his motion, Judge Elaine Bucklo wrote: "Defendant's motion states that his request for a lengthy extension on his sentencing date is to give him "sufficient time to reasonably assess the propriety of a global resolution" of two other cases in which he has been indicted. That does not actually impact any potential sentence in this case, however."

Blago whistleblower wants state board scrapped

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She's a big part of the reason we're here today.
Pam Davis, a hospital CEO, blew the whistle on the Blagojevich administration and extortionate tactics on the health facilities planning board.
Yesterday, she called for an end of the planning board.
Davis was among the first to wire up in the FBI's corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration. Her actions led to more secret recordings, which brought down corrupt board member Stuart Levine.
Levine became the chief witness in last year's trial of political fund-raiser Tony Rezko.
Rezko is now cooperating against Blagojevich.
And on it goes.

Scoop: $110-an-hour ? Blago lawyers will take it

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Lawyers for Rod Blagojevich plan to give up their efforts to seize unlimited control of the ex-governor's $2.3 million campaign fund and instead let the judge parcel it out for attorney's fees. They plan to tell Judge James Zagel in a written motion this week that
they'll give up their fight to gain control of the fund, defense lawyers tell the Sun-Times.
Zagel previously said that if defense lawyers did that, he was likely to tap it to give them money for legal fees -- but at a rate public defenders are paid.
Zagel also warned the fund will quickly run out of money, leaving lawyers to turn to public funds. Zagel last week gave lawyers two choices: 1) ask for a hearing where they'd argue why Blagojevich should have unlimited control of the fund. 2) agree to give up control, allowing Zagel to oversee the money.
The court oversight would mean lawyers would be paid $110 an hour, instead of upwards of $500 an hour that some pull in. (The unemployed Blagojevich has said he doesn't have the money to fund his defense)
It also means that Zagel will decide how many lawyers Blago can have.
The number is a big issue for the defense team, who say they need help getting through 3 million documents and 400 hours of taped conversations.
The defense is expected to lay out that part of the dilemma in court documents this week and ask Zagel to appoint enough lawyers to get through the evidence in a reasonable amount of time.
So far, Shelly Sorosky is the only attorney signed on to represent Blago.
But those unofficially on the team, pending court approval, include Sam Adam Sr. and Sam Adam Jr. as well as Allan Ackerman.
Prosecutors, arguing the money might be seized, argued that defense lawyers should not have unfettered access to the $2.3 million. Without a limit on the rate of fees, they argued, lawyers would draw down the fund immediately and then ask to be put on the public dole.

Prosecutors have said they have an extraordinary amount of evidence against the ex-governor. They weren't joking.
The feds just turned over 1 million documents and 400 hours of recorded conversations to defense lawyers in Rod Blagojevich's case.
There's another at least 500 to 1000 hours of recorded conversations but prosecutors turned over the "pertinent" conversations to lawyers.
The volume of evidence will likely be one argument defense lawyers use as they're expected to ask U.S. District Judge James Zagel to appoint attorneys to the case.

Will Blago pal, Kelly flip?

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Three times may just have been enough to charm a former friend of Rod Blagojevich into talking with the feds. But it hasn't quite gotten Christopher Kelly, who has been indicted three times, to cooperate.
It's the first time the former top fund-raiser has flirted with flipping on his longtime friend.
Sources say Kelly has been in some talks with prosecutors, but so far, the talks haven't amounted to Kelly's cooperation.
That was evidenced in an adverse hearing Tuesday, in which prosecutors fought a Kelly bid to delay sentencing in the first case against him. Kelly pleaded guilty to tax charges in January.
"I cannot comment on anything we've said to the government," said Kelly's lawyer, Michael Monico. "We are facing two upcoming trials and nothing has been decided. The government and Mr. Kelly have not reached any agreements. Mr. Kelly at this point is proceeding to review the evidence in the two pending (cases)."
Monico referenced the amount of pressure the feds have put on Kelly, who is a onetime adviser, fund-raiser and longtime friend to Blagojevich. Kelly was indicted for a third time April 2, along with the ex-governor on corruption charges.
"This case shows more than anything, the power of the government," Monico said.
Monico is seeking to delay Kelly's sentencing on the tax charges until after he gets more evidence for the other two cases against his client. Prosecutors opposed the bid. Monico said in court that prosecutors often delay sentencing when it is in their interests.
That includes the case of fund-raiser and state board member Stuart Levine, who was initially charged in 2004. He's become a significant cooperator for the government and has yet to be sentenced.

Any lawyer who signed up to represent former Gov. Blagojevich already knew there would be an issue with getting paid. Unlike some of the well-financed pols who are charged criminally, Illinois ex-governors can't seem to come up with the cash to pay for their own defense.
On Friday, a federal judge made it pretty clear that the best option for Blagojevich's lawyers to get paid was to go on the public dole.
And that means getting paid $110 an hour.
"They're not particularly high, but they're not all that low either," U.S. District Judge James Zagel said of the hourly rate.
He said there is a "significant pool of highly able lawyers who are willing to work for that fee," knowing that trying such a case would "enhance their reputation."
Regardless of the judge's remarks, many high profile attorneys consider the rate paid by taxpayers a significant pay cut.
Some of the lawyers who have tentatively signed on to represent Blagojevich are paid upwards of $500 an hour.
But the probable team, made up of -- Sheldon Sorosky, Sam Adam Sr., Sam Adam Jr. and Allan Ackerman -- have agreed that, in the "worst case scenario," they would agree to the $110-an-hour fee, defense lawyers in the case have told me.

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