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

Blagojevich: 'I was a politician. I wanted to make people happy. I still do'

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki and Dave McKinney

While prosecutors try to paint Rod Blagojevich as a do-nothing governor who spent much of his time at home, he's fighting back, saying he was just trying to keep the peace and not disappoint his supporters when he stayed away from the office in 2008.

That's because he was overseeing budget cuts, and didn't want to say no to people asking for exceptions, he said.

It seems prosecutor Reid Schar is trying to paint a rather different picture.

"Isn't it true that you started working largely from your house in the very first year you were governor?" Schar asks.

"Yeah, I read a book about Bill Clinton, that's where the idea came from," he answers, prompting a quick reply from Schar.

"Let's talk about what you did," Schar said, jabbing his finger toward the ex-governor.

Blagojevich said it was easier to dodge people he didn't want to see or speak with from home. Schar seems to find that answer dubious.

"You're the sitting governor of the state of Illinois," Schar tells Blagojevich. "At this time you've been governor for about five years."

"I could turn meetings down, yes, I could do that," Blagojevich finally admits.

Schar brings up that even Blagojevich's brother "from time to time had to go through [Blagojevich's secretary] Mary Stewart." Blagojevich testifies eventually that, barring extreme cases, he decided who he spoke and met with as governor.

Blagojevich again tries to crack a joke with Schar after thanking the prosecutor for letting him answer a question in detail. "My answer was so long I forgot your question. What was it?" he asks. Schar seems unamused.

As Schar finishes up questioning on the alleged Children's Memorial Hospital shakedown and Blagojevich's tendency to stay home as governor, Blagojevich testified he was just trying to appease his public.

"I get requests out here to get people into this courtroom," Blagojevich told Schar. "I was a politician. I wanted to make people happy. I still do."

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1. A seeker or holder of public office, who is more concerned about winning favor or retaining power than about maintaining principles.

* Also see disgraced impeached ex-governor of Illinois Rod R. Blagojevich.

Teresa, people who work at home are often more productive than those in offices. Work can be done from anywhere, and it is the governor's decision how he works best in the digital age. There is no reason for the governor to move his family to a big state mansion except to cater to the cocktail crowd who wants him to host parties.

Gosh, I think being the GOVERNOR OF A STATE where you are provided free, security detailed transportation to and from a great big office with a great big staff paid for by the taxpayers, YOU COULD SHOW UP FOR WORK EVERY DAY.

Is working at home illegal? What relevance does it have to the case? I worked at home in Chicago on the north side for many years in the 1990s. The trend toward telecommuting has been going on for 20 years. Even Quinn barely stays at the mansion. What is the point? The prosecutor has to go into the office everyday so he is upset? Or other people who work at home must be lazy?

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on June 6, 2011 4:39 PM.

Blagojevich on his previous testimony: 'I was speaking, I think, somewhat parenthetically' was the previous entry in this blog.

Prosecutors: Blagojevich was trying to use $6 billion Tollway plan as leverage; Blagojevich: 'I don't believe I did' is the next entry in this blog.

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