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

Blagojevich says his advisers pushed him to leverage Senate seat; he insisted it be legal

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Rod Blagojevich is trying to once again to make the argument that he wanted any decision he made about the Senate seat to be "legal, obviously." Judge James Zagel doesn't want testimony about legality, but Blagojevich manages to introduce it again Thursday morning.

He's referring to a Nov. 11, 2008 call with his adviser Doug Scofield where the two have the following exchange:

BLAGOJEVICH: How 'bout a 501(c)(4) so I can advocate children's health care? Can't they get like Warren Buffet and some of those guys to put like $10, $12, $15 million dollars in that? Like right away.

SCOFIELD : Well, they probably could. (PAUSE)

BLAGOJEVICH: Then I can, I could advocate children's health care. Use that thing as a, you know as an advocacy tool and, ah... (PAUSE)

BLAGOJEVICH: How do you make a deal like that? I mean it's gotta be legal obviously, but... But it's very commonplace is it not? Doin' things like this?

SCOFIELD : Ah, I mean that kind of 501(c),(c)(4) is not unusual.

On the stand, Blagojevich testifies he was talking about the Senate seat.

"Any decision I would ultimately make on the Senate seat had to be legal, obviously," Blagojevich says clearly and slowly into the microphone, leaning in. He glances at the jury.

The prosecution objects and Zagel sustains it. Blagojevich goes on to say Scofield and his other advisers were pushing him to exchange something for the Senate seat.

"[Scofield] was advising me to leverage it for whatever was most helpful to me," Blagojevich testifies. "He was giving me his view on what my friends thought I should do with this, that I should leverage the Senate seat."

Watch Blagojevich argue the point after court in early May, when prosecutors first played the tape, here.

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on June 2, 2011 10:20 AM.

Blagojevich: I talked to Emaunel about appointing Madigan to Senate seat was the previous entry in this blog.

Charitable organization wasn't meant to pay Blagojevich, he says; it was 'get the rich to help the poor' is the next entry in this blog.

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