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

Robert Blagojevich: Hospital CEO was just a name on a fund-raising list -- not a target of pay-to-play

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

Robert Blagojevich testifies that when he asked Children's Memorial Hospital CEO Patrick Magoon to host a fund-raiser in fall 2008, it was not in exchange for pending government action that would have increased reimbursement rate for the hospital.

Instead, Magoon was merely a name on a list of prior contributors that Robert Blagojevich was trying to hit up for campaign cash, he testifies.

Robert said he was given the list of names by his predecessor at Friends of Blagojevich, and it contained only donor names and phone numbers -- no amounts.

"(Magoon), like many others, was a previous contributor," Robert Blagojevich testifies. Magoon said on the stand last week that he had given several $1,000 contributions to the governor. "To me, they were all the same, just names and numbers of people to call who were previous contributors."

"It wasn't your practice to go through the list and find people who had given at most $1,000 and then go ask them to hold a $25,000 fund-raiser?" prosecutor Chris Niewoehner asks. "Because it wouldn't make sense to suddenly ask people to give 25 times more than they'd given before, would it?"

Robert Blagojevich argues that asking someone to hold a fund-raiser is different than asking them directly for cash.

"I think that's a real difference," Robert testifies. "I didn't ask him for a contribution, I asked him to host a fund-raiser. If he wanted to."

Robert is accused of helping his brother try to shake down the hospital CEO for campaign cash in exchange for the governor approving a Medicaid reimbursement rate that meant millions of increased funding for the non-profit hospital.

Magoon testified for the government last week, saying he felt pressured and that the timing of Robert's request for a fund-raiser was all too coincidental -- especially when the governor had asked Magoon to temporarily keep the rate increase a secret.

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This just cooks my grits. Magoon is himself a lobbyist as head of the Illinois Hospital Association's PAC. The hospital association gets its PAC money from the salaries of docs, and others in the employ of a hospial -- kind of like a "street tax" for playing in their sandbox. He hires Wyma because of Wyma's relationship with Rod. He seeks 8 million extra of our tax dollars for his institution (not saying hospitals who help the indigent don't deserve an increase in medicaid reimbursement -- they ALL do -- all docs, all hospitals, all nursing homes, not just Children's pediatricians, the money not going directly to the docs, but to the hospital which hires them). On Wyma's advice Magoon gets a Cubs guy to call Blago to "lobby" for the hospital because Blago is big on the CUBS. If the hospital plays the game, and lobbies with an arsenal not available to most other hospitals, docs, nursing homes in the state -- it's not pressure, it's lobbying. But when the head of a large PAC is asked if he is "willing" to hold a fundraiser, it's EXTORTION. INFURIATING.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah Ostman published on July 20, 2010 10:32 AM.

Robert Blagojevich: "That's a leap I will no way step into" was the previous entry in this blog.

Robert Blagojevich unapologetic on brother's Cabinet seat hopes: "It would be a good fit" is the next entry in this blog.

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