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

Former Chief of Staff John Wyma: "I thought it was wrong, obviously wrong."

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

John Wyma, Rod Blagojevich's former Congressional chief of staff, fund-raiser and friend, is testifying with a promise of immunity about fund-raising at Friends of Blagojevich in the ex-governor's first term.

Blagojevich, sitting at the defense table, stared at Wyma as he passed him on his way to the witness stand. The ex-governor visibly sighed when hit the stand.

Wyma -- a tanned, blond-haired man wearing a gray suit and pink and blue striped tie -- says he was one of Blagojevich's "central raisers." Fund-raising meetings were attended by the governor, Lon Monk and Chris Kelly, among others.

That point -- that Blagojevich was in the room for fund-raising meetings -- echoes testimony of previous witnesses and suggests that Blago lied to the FBI when he told them he put up a "firewall" between politics and fund-raising.

Wyma is now testifying about his participation in two areas that we've heard about before -- the state's Teacher's Retirement System and a grant for a school in then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel's district.

Regarding TRS, Wyma testifies that Chris Kelly told him in 2004 that if Wyma's clients wanted to do business with TRS, they had to make a $50,000 campaign contribution to Blagojevich.

Wyma said he didn't pass that on to his client, though -- "because I thought it was wrong, obviously wrong."

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Today, looks to make a better case for lying to the feds about the "firewall." Prior to this all we had was Blago saying he knew about fundraising, but not details which appeared to go along with testimony that he expected those who had made committments, to meet them. Doing that would not be looking into the details, but the overall amounts pledged by the fundraisers. A "firewall' can be open to interpretation, but saying you will release so much money on a tollway project in order to see how the beneficiaries of the project come through with $$ before you release more, is getting closer to making a case for lying.

I think the feds need to pull out that dictionary and read about the meaning of "firewall". Just like a computer you have a firewall but that doesn't mean you don't connect to the internet. It doesn't stop you from searching for porn. A firewall prevents bad things from comming to you. So Blago didn't lie. He had a firewall to prevent the bad or shady things from comming to him. To suggest that fiewall means no contact is crazy and not the definition of the word.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on July 13, 2010 11:05 AM.

Blagojevich trial: Jurors watch Rod Blagojevich take his oath of office was the previous entry in this blog.

John Wyma on road building industry: Governor said "if they didn't perform, f--- them. is the next entry in this blog.

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