Under direction from President-elect Obama, union leader Tom Balanoff met with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich two days after the presidential election to talk Senate seat appointment.
That's when Blagojevich offers a proposal.
"Tom, my real passion is health care. If I can be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, then I can live out my passion," Balanoff said Blagojevich told him in a Nov. 6, 2008 meeting at the Thompson Center. "I understood that if he could be appointed to that position then Valerie Jarrett could be appointed to the Senate seat."
Balanoff said he warned Blagojevich that wouldn't happen. But Balanoff passed it all on to Jarrett in a meeting the next day, he said.
"Well, he said some goofy stuff," Balanoff said he told Jarrett. "At one point he told me his real passion was health care and if he could be the Secretary of Health and Human Services he could really live out his passion."
The next week though, Jarrett pulls out of Senate seat contention. Blagojevich calls Balanoff now, asking him if it's true. He then offers another idea: set up a 501 c (4) not-for-profit so Blagojevich could head it and he would appoint Jarrett. Blagojevich is heard on tape suggesting that millionaires could pour cash into the fund to get it off the ground.
"I think it's a great idea," Balanoff says of the foundation, which prosecutors have said is part of the plot to sell the Senate seat post.