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

Robert Blagojevich attorney: You can't get convicted for talking

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki, Dave McKinney and Abdon Pallasch

Prosecutors argued earlier that just because Rod Blagojevich's schemes never got carried out, it doesn't mean the ex-governor isn't guilty.

Now Michael Ettinger, attorney for his brother, Robert Blagojevich, paints the issue a different way.

Ettinger gives an example of a Lamborghini sitting outside his office with the keys left inside. If he tells his colleague, attorney Cheryl Schroeder, that he wants to take it for a joyride and she says no, are they guilty of taking the car, he asks?

No, he says. "You can't get convicted in this country for talking to your brother and raising something that then gets shot down," Ettinger says. "No, not in this country."

Ettinger paints his client as an honest person who was out of his element in his brother's world of politics and fund-raising.

The attorney dismissed any nefarious role Rob had in working with "bundlers," the behind-the scenes rain-makers who convince donors to give to candidates, "bundling up packages of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars that show up as individual donations on campaign contribution lists."

"Bundlers, they're people that, they're lobbyists or whatever. They're people that have fundraisers. What did Rob do? He was a scorekeeper: 'How you doing?' 'How much money you have coming in?' He was a pain. But that's what you do," Ettinger said.

That means Robert had to work the phones, Ettinger says.

"He would make phone calls. In fact, he would make that same call that he made to (Children's Memorial Hospital CEO) Patrick Magoon hundreds of times over those four months: 'Can you have a fund-raiser?'"

Another comical moment earlier. Ettinger puts on a giant screen a photo of Johnny Carson dressed as "Carnac the Magnificent," holding a sealed letter to his head.

The courtroom gallery laughs.

Ettinger points to it and says it's akin to John Wyma's testimony -- where the former Blago chief of staff tries to guess what's inside Robert Blagojevich's mind when he testified that Robert was shaking down Patrick Magoon for campaign cash.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on July 26, 2010 2:56 PM.

Defense attorney: Robert Blagojevich a "person of honor" was the previous entry in this blog.

Judge James Zagel: Closing statements will carry into tomorrow is the next entry in this blog.

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