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

Blagojevich on Rahm shakedown allegation: I didn't do it.

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Reporting with Lark Turner

Rod Blagojevich said he was surprised when he first heard that a school in Rahm Emanuel's district hadn't gotten a state grant it was promised.

"What do you mean, I approved the grant a long time ago, I thought he got the money," Blagojevich said he recalls reacting.

Blagojevich says he has only vague recollections of discussions involving Chicago Academy. Except he distinctly recalls someone mentioning the building.
He knew it: "I took the ACT exam there. Twice."

When he heard the school wasn't getting its money, Blagojevich said he then instructed his staff to: "Pay it out, pay it. I told him, pay it as the bills come in," he said.

He's accused of holding up the grant money to the Chicago Academy in Emanuel's district because Emanuel's wealthy brother, Ari, hadn't held a fund-raiser for him.

Blagojevich talks of going to an event at Ari Emanuel's home in Beverly Hills in 2006 and meeting stars like Seinfeld writer Larry David. That's when Blagojevich said he asked John Wyma if he could get the same event. He was eventually told no, and he said he dropped it.

When the ex-governor talked about David, Prosecutor Reid Schar, stares straight down at table, finally stands up to object.

"I knew that was going to happen," Blagojevich says.

Schar,the one who will cross-examine the ex-governor, sits back down, head in hand for a moment.

Blagojevich said he told his staff to pay the school's bills as they came in because he suspected the school was not getting a second grant. He suggests that his onetime deputy governor Bradley Tusk sometimes made decisions without him and may have committed a second grant to Emanuel.

Tusk testified that Blagojevich asked him to hold up the grant money because Emanuel's brother hadn't held a fund-raiser. Blagojevich said that wasn't true.

John Wyma also said the ex-governor told him to hold up the grant.
Blagojevich said that was not true.

The bottom line, according to Blagojevich,
"The Chicago Academy got its money and the football stadium was built," Blagojevich said.

Goldstein: "Did you ever hold up this school grant?
Blagojevich: "No."

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney Back on the stand, Rod Blagojevich is being examined about a grant to a Chicago school he promised to then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel sometime in 2006. Prosecutors allege Blagojevich held up money to the... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on May 26, 2011 3:18 PM.

Blagojevich questioning moves to substance in charges was the previous entry in this blog.

Blagojevich: Emil Jones "humiliated me" on ethics bill is the next entry in this blog.

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