Lon Monk just gives a new angle on the most compelling storyline of the Rod Blagojevich trial: horsetrading for the senate seat.
Monk described Blagojevich as a man so consumed by raising money, and thus power, for himself, that he was willing to trade a Senate seat appointment to kill an ethics bill.
Monk testified that a call from Barack Obama in 2008 unwittingly derailed a deal hatched by Rod Blagojevich and Illinois Senate President Emil Jones.
Monk testified that Blagojevich told him that Jones (who has since retired) would not call an ethics bill that Blagojevich strongly opposed if "Rod named him to Obama's Senate seat if Obama won in November."
"Did you understand he was serious?" prosecutor Chris Niewoehner asked.
"Yes," Monk said.
Obama himself then called Jones and told him to call the bill for a vote, Monk said. Jones then called to tell Blagojevich he was going back on the deal.
Rod Blagojevich was writing furiously and leaning into his notebook during this part of the testimony.
The reason Blagojevich was so interested in killing this bill goes back to fund-raising, Monk testified.
Once Chris Kelly was charged in 2007, Rod Blagojevich took a more direct and active role in fund-raising, Monk testified. Blagojevich picked up the phone and called people himself. He was more active.
Then the brakes were going to be put on him. The Illinois Legislature in 2008 passed a far-reaching ethics bill that would keep him from soliciting donations from people who did business with the state. After Jan. 1, 2009, there was a fairly large group of donors who were no longer able to give him money.
Blagojevich thought: "It was overreaching and unfair because it focused only on the governor's office and not the legislature," Monk said.
As an aside: When the bill stalled in the senate, there were many negative headlines. That was led by the Chicago Sun-Times where an editorial eventually asked then-Presidential candidate Obama to call Jones and force the bill to be called. The editorial included Jones' office phone number.