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

Unveiling Senate Candidate C; Hull wanted Obama's seat

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BY NATASHA KORECKI Staff Reporter

Multimillionaire Chicago trader Blair Hull wanted to be a U.S. senator so badly that he spent more than $24 million of his personal fortune in 2004, but he ended up losing to Barack Obama in the Democratic primary.

And when Obama was elected president last year and gave up his Senate seat, Hull went after it again.

But this time, he worked behind the scenes, quietly angling to get appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Hull is the unnamed "Senate Candidate C" mentioned in one line of the former governor's indictment, according to sources with knowledge of the Blagojevich investigation.

Blagojevich wanted something from "Candidate C" -- $100,000 in campaign cash, according to the indictment.

In a secretly recorded phone call last Nov. 1, Blagojevich and his brother, Robert Blagojevich, discussed "potential campaign contributions" from "Candidate C" as well as U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., authorities say.

Through an associate, Hull declined to comment.

Sources say Hull sought Blagojevich's appointment to the Senate.

In December, Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges that included an allegation that he tried selling Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Robert Blagojevich's attorney Michael Ettinger says his client, who headed his brother's campaign fund, never made an overture to Hull.

"He never called Hull, he doesn't know Hull, he never talked to him or any of his representatives," Ettinger says.

An attorney for the former governor could not be reached.

Hull was once a major Blagojevich campaign contributor, pouring nearly $500,000 into Blagojevich's campaign fund between December 2001 and March 2006.

Sources say Hull once lent Blagojevich $100,000 and, after Blagojevich refused to endorse him in the 2004 race, asked that the money be returned.

Last October, Blagojevich got a call on Hull's behalf from Fred Lebed, according to the ex-governor's phone log. Lebed had once hired Blagojevich's father-in-law, Ald. Dick Mell, as a political consultant for Hull's 2004 bid for the Senate.

Lebed says he arranged a meeting between Hull and Blagojevich last fall and that the two men talked about the Senate seat, among other things.

"Blair's interest," says Lebed, "was cold to lukewarm."

Lebed says he heard nothing about Blagojevich wanting a $100,000 contribution.

At the time, Lebed was partners in a lobbying firm with Roland Burris -- the man Blagojevich ultimately appointed to Obama's seat.

Hull is the latest figure to be drawn into the vortex of the Blagojevich case, which has spawned congressional ethics probes of Burris and Jackson, neither of whom has been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Jackson is the "Senate Candidate A" referred to in the Blagojevich indictment, which says a Jackson associate allegedly pledged $1.5 million in political contributions to Blagojevich if Jackson were appointed to the Senate seat.

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1 Comment

AS this mess drags on, it is apparent term limits are need in all branches of government need term limits and need to be barred from serving in any type of lobbyist position for a minimum of 5 years. That will at least put a of a stopgap measure to control these way out of control power bases.

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