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

Defense lawyer on campaign contributions: 'We may not like the system, but that is politics'

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Diving into the government's specific allegations in his closing argument, defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein is defending his client Rod Blagojevich's actions as governor, saying actions speak louder than words.

On the prosecution's allegation Blagojevich held back a school grant to squeeze Rahm Emanuel's brother Ari for a fundraiser, Goldstein said the evidence is clear: Blagojevich did nothing but pay up.

"Don't blow up what is very obvious: just a delay, if you want to call it that, in this grant," Goldstein said, attributing the delay to everyday bureaucratic issues with the grant. "Ask yourself over and over and over again," he instructs jurors. They'll find, he says, "nothing, nothing, nothing."

Moving onto the Tollway allegations, Goldstein points out it's legal for politicians to ask for campaign contributions.

"A politician, a governmental official, is allowed to demand, solicit, seek ... campaign contributions," Goldstein told jurors. "We may not like it. We may not like the system. That is what we have. That is politics today, and that is the law. You have the right as a public official to request campaign contributions even if there's official business pending before that official."

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Not sure an elected official or candidate is allowed to DEMAND a contribution.
Solicit, ask yes. DEMAND I'm not so sure.


If what Goldstein says is transcribed accurately, then this will pose a problem for the defense. The jury will consider strongly now that Goldstein said that it's ok to solicit political contributions even while or if there is business pending. The jury may not agree that it is a "right" as stated....and may decide to punish Blago for it. This is the problem when you have an inexperienced (or what appears to be) lawyer presenting the closing argument. He is not in sync with the defendent's testimony....he, like Blagoevich, is "free-styling" during his close, which IS NOT GOOD!

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This page contains a single entry by Lark Turner published on June 9, 2011 2:09 PM.

Defense begins closing argument: 'They want you to believe his talk is a crime. It's not.' was the previous entry in this blog.

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