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Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

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Patti Blagojevich visited former Governor Rod Blagojevich in Colorado prison over the weekend, calling it "one of the saddest places on earth."
"We spent the weekend in Denver visiting Rod," Patti Blagojevich posted on her Facebook page. "He was so happy to see ... us and we were so happy to see him. That visiting room has to be one of the saddest places on earth though. All those little kids visiting their dads. It breaks your heart."
Rod Blagojevich is serving out a 14-year sentence at FCI Englewood Prison in Littleton, Colo.
Recently, his former lawyers, Sam Adam and Sam Adam Jr. visited the former governor, and reported that he looked tan and had put on at least five pounds of weight from working out.
Patti Blagojevich's Facebook posting got more than 300 "likes" and more than 100 comments.
Said one well-wisher: "(Ultimately), it doesn't matter where you all got together, you were together. That is what matters!"
Another wrote:
"The heartbreaking thing really is that the kids have to see their dads in a place like that. Just saying."
Rod Blagojevich was convicted of 18 federal corruption charges, including attempting to sell President Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.


Nothing can awaken a sleeping courtroom like listening to an irate ex-Illinois governor unleash a series of f-bombs, aimed at the media, the president, his faltering political career, his lack of money and just about everything else he can think of at the moment.

His voice rising, Rod Blagojevich says of President-Elect Obama on tape:
"Give this mother f----- his senator? F--- him. For nothing? F--- him!

Blagojevich is on a call with advisers and his wife, Patti. He says everyone's passing him up politically while he's stuck in Springfield with gridlock and making no money.

"I feel like I'm f------ my children. I'm stuck in this f---ing ...
nasty f---ing, s----y f---ing press," Blagojevich is heard saying as wide-eyed jurors listen.

Blagojevich says he needs work that will take "financial stress" off his family. Patti then points to Michelle Obama: "she's making $300,000 at the University of Chicago," she says.

Prosecutors played the tape to set up the next witness. While jurors just heard him complaining he has no money and he's worried about providing for his children, the next witness, Shari Schindler, will talk about what he did with all his money.

He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on fine clothing -- for himself.

Blagojevich retrial: Day 10, Taking off the gloves

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Defense: On day 10 of Rod Blagojevich's retrial, defense lawyer Aaron Goldstein managed to set off Judge James Zagel, who threatened to sit him down in front of jurors.

Zagel, in turn, set off Patti Blagojevich, who went before cameras to protest Zagel's repeated sustained objections. Some reporters counted more than 100 government objections that Zagel sustained. Zagel said Goldstein flouted his repeated rulings so that he could in essence offer testimony through his questions. Zagel repeatedly blocked him, but jurors still heard the questions.

Patti Blagojevich launched a potentially dangerous salvo at the judge, charging his rulings were "a deliberate attempt to hide the truth."

Prosecution:
What will prosecutors do today?
Prosecutor Reid Schar has previously complained to Zagel that the Blagojevich strategy is to make it appear to the public that the government is trying to hide the ball when really, the defense is just being asked to follow the same rules as everyone else in federal court.
While the ex-governor didn't do the talking in the news availability after court, he was standing at his wife's side while she did.

Up next: Union leader Tom Balanoff continues under Goldstein's cross examination.


Updating his wife on the latest happenings involving the Senate seat appointment and seemingly out of sorts, Rod Blagojevich on tape says Valerie Jarrett had pulled out of contention. Rahm Emanuel, who previously said he wanted Jarrett, subsequently called John Harris with a new list of potential candidates.

Blagojevich called it a "politically-correct list to cover his a--." He talks about how Emanuel had previously been high on a Jarrett appointment.

"Rahm was pushing her more than others because he wanted to get her out of the White House," the ex-gov tells his wife, Patti Blagojevich.

That CYA list included Tammy Duckworth, Dan Hynes, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jan Schakowsky, according to the recorded phone calls played in court.

"So what's your next move?" Patti Blagojevich asks her husband.

The conversation circles back to the then-Gov. discussing appointing himself for U.S. Senate. That's a move Blagojevich said at a news conference that he would not make. He repeatedly said publicly that he would do what was best for the citizens of Illinois.

On tape, the conversation goes another way.

"It opens up opportunities for you that we don't have now," Blagjoevich is heard saying. "Financially for us. I'm gonna get working on that now."

Patti: Yeah. I don't know.
Rod Blagojevich: What's best for us - first and foremost. On the legal front, on the personal front and political front. In that order."
Patti: "Right."
Rod: "Right?"
Patti: "Right."

Reporting with Lark Turner


We're back in this morning with John Harris on the stand, and a slew of recordings that delve deep into the Senate seat negotiations that were in full force in the fall of 2008.

On tape Rod Blagojevich is talking about what's next and how he can transition into the private sector while remaining politically viable.

Harris tells him he will be disappointed if he doesn't keep working for stuff he believes in.

Blagojevich has another take: "You have to understand it's very important for me to make a lot of money."

Blagojevich went on to talk about his family and how vulnerable he's making his family--wife and daughters--and how Amy will be 14 and then be off to college.

In court, Patti Blagojevich purses her lips; at end of conversation about paying for Amy's college he turns to Patti with similar look (pursed lips, disappointment).

In a recent interview, Patti and Rod said they drained Amy's college fund to pay bills, following the ex-governor's impeachment and Patti losing her job.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Prosecutors play the infamous Patti Blagojevich segment in which she's heard chiming in over Rod as her husband and Bob Greenlee discuss the Chicago Tribune's drum beat to impeach him.

Patti is heard referencing the Tribune Co.'s hope to get state help for a Cubs and Wrigley Field sale.

Patti: "Tell them to hold up that f-ing Cubs s---. F--- them. F--- them. What kind of bulls--- is that."

Later in the tape, Patti is heard going on about the editorial board:

Patti: "Just fire them... what would William Randolph Hearst do? Say, 'Oh, I can't interfere with my editorial board?'... They're hurting (the paper's) business."
Greenlee: "They've lost all impartiality. They're awful, just awful."

Later, Rod discusses going to Sam Zell and telling him to "fire those f----ers."

Before the call was played, Patti was told to leave the room. She did. As the tape plays inside the courtroom, Rod rubs his fingers over his lips, looks at the transcript seriously and at one point puts a hand on his face.

On an earlier tape, Blagojevich and Greenlee discuss the Chicago Tribune's editorials calling for the governor to be impeached. Meanwhile, sitting in the courtroom is editorial writer John McCormick.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

With two brief witnesses, prosecutors are continuing to suggest more shady dealings between Patti Blagojevich and Tony Rezko's Rezmar Corp.

First, real estate agent Marianne Piazzi, and now FBI Special Agent Jane Ferguson, are testifying on the sales of properties owned by a Rezmar company.

They testify that Patti's real estate company, River Realty, accepted cash from Rezko without doing any work.

For the sale of a property at 1069 W. Chestnut, River Realty got more than $14,000, documents show.

In his cross-examination, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. questioned Ferguson's knowledge of the River Realty documents, suggesting she doesn't know how old the documents are or who created them.

Defense: Patti's work for Rezmar was legitimate

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Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Defense attorney Michael Gillespie is questioning Winter on his knowledge of a business arrangement between Patti Blagojevich and convicted businessman Tony Rezko.

Gillespie: "You are not the person who negotiated the working agreement with Mrs. Blagojevich?"
Winter: "No."
Gillespie: "You have absolutely no idea about the underlying terms of that working agreement?"
Winter: "No."

Testimony last week stated that Patti pocketed a $12,000 retainer from Rezko's development company each month for doing virtually no work, and also received other checks and home repairs.

Patti could have been performing legitimate services for the company, Gillespie is arguing.

Winter is now off the stand. The government has called real estate agent Marianne Piazzi.


Reporting with Sarah Ostman

A government witness has testified that businessman Tony Rezko asked him to cut checks to the former governor's wife even though she hadn't done work for it.

Robert Williams, former chief financial officer of Rezko's Rezmar company said
she was paid $12,000 a month and it was recorded in Rezmar books as consulting.

Prosecutor Carrie Hamilton asked if Williams was aware of any consulting work Patti Blagojevich did.

Williams: "I was not."

Williams is testifying under a grant of immunity.

Williams said he'd occasionally see Patti in the offices.

"She had her children with her," he said and she usually just talked to Rezko.

"Mr. Rezko informed me we wouldn't be writing any more checks after that May, 2004 check," he said.

In January, 2004: Williams is testifying that Rezko gave him a check from Chicago Title and Trust for $40,000. Williams said Rezko told him to deposit it and then cut a check to Patti Blagojevich's River Realty company in the amount of $40,000.

Before that testimony, Williams spoke of another, $15,000 check that Rezko asked be cut for Patti Blagojevich.

In August 2003, Rezko asked Williams to figure out how they could give River Realty a check for around $15,000. Williams realized they'd recently closed on a deal (850 N Ogden LLC project) and if he tacked on a fake 2.5 percent fee on, it would make up the needed figure.

Hamilton asked Williams if he thought Patti Blagojevich had done any work for that money.

The answer was no.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Next on the stand is someone we've seen before -- IRS agent and numbers cruncher Shari Shindler.

With charts and graphs, she's explaining a flow of money from Tony Rezko's Rezmar Corp. to Patti Blagojevich's firm, River Realty.

Prosecutors noted that nowhere on the Blagojevich family's tax returns -- which were publicly released while Rod was governor -- is there any indication that Rezko money went to Patti.

The Blagojeviches' income peaked in 2004 at $392,392. By 2008 -- the year we hear recordings of Blagojevich angsting about his cash flow -- it's down to $226,795.

Patti has left the room for this witness, as she always does when she's the subject of testimony.

Witness: I arranged job meeting for Patti Blagojevich

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Reporting with Sarah Ostman
Union leader Tom Balanoff also testified that Rod Blagojevich friend and onetime campaign aide Doug Scofield asked him to meet with the then-governor's wife about a job in the Spring of 2008.

Patti Blagojevich said she wanted to get away from real estate and was looking for work in the financial sector.

Balanoff asked a friend to meet with her.

"I did tell him: 'I don't want you to hire her, but I do want you to meet with her," Balanoff said.

He explained he didn't push for a job because there was an apparent federal investigation underway of the Blagojevich administration and he didn't want to put his friend in that position.

The rapid-fire testimony for the prosecution has now conclude with Balanoff undergoing cross examination by defense lawyer Shelly Sorosky.

Blagojevich trial: Day 13 -- and recap

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Tuesday Recap

Prosecutors play a series of recordings where Rod Blagojevich can be heard asking how he can personally benefit from his power to appoint Barack Obama's replacement.
"Let's go down the pecking order... What else is good? Ambassador to the UN?" Blagojevich is heard saying in a secretly recorded call with his top aide, John Harris.
Harris: "No way."
Blagojevich: "Right, keep going ... "How about India? How about South Africa?"

Good for Blagojevich: The defense asks for a mistrial, saying Judge James Zagel unfairly shut down their questioning of witnesses and made inappropriate remarks in front of jurors. Zagel says they can submit a list of questions they should have been allowed to ask and he'd consider.

Up today:

Day three on the stand for John Harris. He'll pick up today talking about Blagojevich's on-tape statements about wanting to be named ambassador to India.

To start off the morning in a bizarre way: a group of six people stood in the hallway just outside the courtroom and clapped and cheered for Rod as he walked out from the
elevators.

"Free Blago!" one yelled.

Rod and Patti walked up to them, Rod shaking their hands: "I didn't let you down, and this is the process to show it," he said, pointing to the courtroom.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

John Harris

Rod Blagojevich told his top aide to cut off two firms, including CitiBank, from state business as retaliation for not giving his wife a job, former chief of staff John Harris has testified.

Patti had just gotten her Series 7 securities license; Rod was anxious to find her work, Harris testified, and asked the chief of staff to meet with some business contacts on her behalf.

Harris did, reaching out to two acquaintances, including one at CitiBank, he said. But the networking attempts failed -- and the governor was not pleased, he testified.

"He told me to make sure CitiBank doesn't get any more state work, and to make sure that John Rogers doesn't get any more state work," Harris testified. "He didn't feel they had done enough to help Patti."

Harris told an "agitated" and "angry" Blagojevich that cutting the firms off would be impossible, that he didn't have control over their bond work.

When Harris later learned CitiBank was in line to win a major state deal, he said he purposely kept Blagojevich in the dark.

"I knew he would be upset," Harris testified.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki

Rod Blagojevich addressed a small crowd outside the courtroom during the lunch break. The first topic -- his wife's new haircut.

"It's beautiful. I say that to her every day -- and I'm not just saying that because she's testifying," he said, laughing. He confirmed that he got a trim, too.

Blagojevich also spoke about a possible gag order and said his lawyers are on the side of the First Amendment.

"One of the things we're fighting for is the First Amendment. That's worth fighting for and that's worth dying for, and that's what we're trying to do," he said.

Then Blagojevich came back to reporters to finish his sentence and make sure everyone got this: "The right of free speech, one of the cornerstones of America."

He was eventually warned by a deputy marshal to stop speaking.

Prosecutors lay the groundwork to show a financial relationship between Patti Blagojevich and Tony Rezko.

Lon Monk said the then-governor wanted his wife to get a steady flow of income. So they asked lawyers from Winston & Strawn if it was legal for Patti Blagojevich to work at Rezmar, Rezko's company. She would sell and market real estate on retainer.

"It wasn't a problem for her to work for Rezmar so long as she was actually working for them," Monk said the lawyers told them. "His advice was, you know, make sure she's working."
That was a concern, he said, because:"She was not only the governor's wife, but she was also a stay at home mom for two little girls."

Prosecutors will later say, through other witnesses, that Patti was a ghost payroller, that she didn't actually do work but came in to Rezmar offices for show. They'll say she sometimes brought her kids to the offices with her but didn't do the work. She was paid $12,000 a month on retainer.

They'll say that Mr. and Mrs. Blagojevich flouted the advice of their attorneys.

Rod Blagojevich and Patti lunch in cafeteria

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Yesterday the former governor had his lunch delivered into a witness room in the courthouse.

Today, Rod Blagojevich and his wife were in the federal courthouse cafeteria pumping their own coffee from giant thermoses.

Several jurors were in the same general area, picking out their lunches. So were Patti's sister, state Rep. Deb Mell, and her partner.

All the while, courthouse security kept watch of the jurors, rounding them up with their lunches to bring them upstairs.

Adam Jr.: Patti stands by her man

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The opening statement from Blago attorney Sam Adam Jr. briefly switched gears to the topic of Patti Blagojevich -- and preparing the jury for what they're bound to hear out of the former first lady's mouth.

Patti is a "good woman," Adam said, one that "stands by her man."

That explains why jurors will hear Patti say "F-- the Cubs" on a recording in the coming months, he said.

Of course she disliked the Cubs, he said -- the team is owned by the Tribune Co., and that newspaper's editorial board wanted her husband impeached.

But this time, there was no "eff-ing" around. Adam dropped a full-fledged f-bomb.

Day one ends withs little fanfare

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Rod and Patti.jpg

Much to the chagrin of dozens of reporters camped out in the lobby of the Dirksen Building, the Blagojeviches and their attorneys left today with hardly a word.

Robert Blagojevich was the first to go. He left the courtroom alone at about 5 p.m., shortly after Judge James Zagel adjourned jury selection for the day.

Rod and Patti were escorted out of the building by court personnel about 15 minutes later, passing a scant crowd of reporters and onlookers poised outside with cell phone cameras.

The former governor waved and smiled at the group -- yelling "How's everybody doing?" -- before helping Patti hop a large puddle to climb into the back seat of a white Infiniti.

A cluster of defense attorneys stuck around upstairs until almost 6 p.m., then slipped out with barely a word toward a bay of video cameras.

Jury selection will resume at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

First, attorneys will argue to cut loose those potential jurors whom they believe to be biased based on their questioning today. When that process is complete, the next group of potentials will be brought in.


blago

In a news conference outside his lawyers' South Side office, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich outright asked for a showdown with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Blagojevich said he would go to court tomorrow and he hoped Fitzgerald "was man enough to be there too."
He called federal prosecutors "cowards and liars," for "hitting below the belt" and lodging allegations against his wife, Patti, last week as well as for opposing his playing all the secret FBI tapes in court.
"They're now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife," Rod Blagojevich said of allegations last week that his wife, whom he referred to as "a licensed professional" was essentially a ghost pay-roller for convicted political fixer Tony Rezko. Blagojevich spoke directly to Patrick Fitzgerald, essentially challenging the U.S. Attorney to show up to the courthouse tomorrow and talk about playing all the tapes.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel has previously entered a ruling barring all of the tapes in the case from being played.
Blagojevich's remarks, broadcast live on at least three TV channels, come after federal prosecutors made public last week a key document in the case, revealing that some of the former governor's closest friends have been talking to prosecutors for months.
Here's what he said:
"Last week in their proffer of lies, they're now hitting below the belt and attacking my wife. They are cowards and they are liars.
Patti is a devoted mother. She's a loving wife. She's a licensed professional, she is capable, she is competent. All the money that she earned she worked for and paid taxes on.
And while they were lying on her last week, they're now sneaking into court tomorrow, to file a motion to try to keep all the tapes from being heard.
They know when all those tapes are going to be played, they will show I've done nothing wrong, they'll prove my innocence and that Patti did nothing wrong.
The second reason they're doing this, is the reason they know and we know: there's a smoking gun on those tapes and the smoking gun is that the government is covering up the big lie that Fitzgerald gave to the world when he had me arrested on December the 9th and he told the whole world that he heard tapes and he heard telephone conversations and had to arrest a sitting governor because he was: 'stopping a crime spree before it happened.' That is a lie. And the reason they won't play all those tapes is because they're covering up that big lie that foreseeably led to a chain of events that stole a governor from the people of Illinois and undid the will of the people.
I challenge Mr. Fitzgerald. Why don't you show up in court tomorrow and explain to everybody, say to the whole world why you don't want those tapes that you made played in court.
I'll be in court tomorrow, I hope you're man enough to be there tomorrow, too."
There is a previously scheduled court status in the case tomorrow at noon.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are trying the case will be there. Fitzgerald isn't expected to be.
Blagojevich's comments were forceful but brief. He took no questions.
One reporter shouted: "Are you attempting to influence the jury pool?"
He continued walking back into his lawyers' office, without answering.
A news release from his PR people created some anticipation, saying Blagojevich was expected to make: "the strongest public statement to date concerning the charges he is facing."
The former governor's comments come after Blagojevich's lawyers told Judge James Zagel two weeks ago they wanted to keep a key document in the investigation under seal because they didn't want the case "tried in the media."
Prosecutors yesterday entered a series of filings in the case, including a request that defense lawyers be barred from telling jurors that the government wouldn't let Blagojevich play all the tapes at trial.
Prosecutors noted that it was up to Zagel to decide which recordings would be played in the case. Zagel has said that if Blagojevich takes the witness stand, he will more than likely play whatever recordings he chooses.

Patti Blagojevich files defamation lawsuit

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patti


Patti Blagojevich is taking aim at her former employer, filing a defamation lawsuit against a top official for allegedly making defaming remarks to a newspaper columnist.
Mrs. Blagojevich filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court charging that Rick Roberts, the senior director of strategy and communications for the Chicago Christian Industrial League, made defaming remarks about her by claiming she inappropriately took an internal email list from the group when she was fired in January.
Roberts made the remarks two weeks ago initially to columnist Michael Sneed. He then repeated them the next day in the Chicago Tribune.
Roberts called Patti Blagojevich "unethical," saying she used the email contacts to try selling her husband's new book.
Patti Blagojevich later told the Sun-Times that it was Roberts who was inappropriate; she said she dumped her own email list into the league's database to help bolster fund-raising.
"The galling thing about this is before I got to CCIL -- there was no e-mail list. They had no e-mail outreach at all," she told the Sun-Times in a Sept. 18 story. "I dumped all my contacts of all my friends. . . . Their list is my list."
Roberts could not be immediately reached for comment.


This is from the Patti Blagojevich and Rod Blagojevich's PR group.

(PRNewsChannel) / Chicago, Ill. / Less than two weeks after being accused by her former employer--a charity--of inappropriately taking its 'proprietary' donor list and then using it to promote her husband's new book, former Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich fought back today by suing for defamation.

The lawsuit, filed this morning in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill., names Richard Roberts, the senior director of strategy and communications for the Chicago Christian Industrial League (CCIL) as the defendant.

According to the lawsuit, Roberts falsely accused the former first lady of stealing CCIL's donor list.

But according to the suit, CCIL never maintained an email list of donors for purposes of outreach. The suit says Mrs. Blagojevich created her own list building on her personal Outlook contacts.

When her husband was arrested, Mrs. Blagojevich was abruptly fired.

The complaint alleges that Roberts made false accusations to 'Chicago Sun-Times' columnist Michael Sneed, who then published the statements in a column on September 17, 2009.

The suit does not name the 'Chicago Sun-Times,' Sneed or the charity itself as defendants.

"There is no easier way to attract media attention and generate free publicity than to make false accusations against a person whose life is the focus of constant public attention and scrutiny," says Jay Edelson of KamberEdelson, the lead attorney in this suit. "Hopefully, this will send the message that making false statements against Patti or Rod Blagojevich will not go unanswered."

KamberEdelson LLC. has been handling the defense of various civil actions filed against the former governor of Illinois following his removal from office.

Patti: I didn't swipe list from charity to promote hubby's book

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In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Patti Blagojevich took issue with public criticism that she had absconded with a list of contacts from her former employer so she could help bolster sales of the former governor's new book.


Rod, Patti Blagojevich to attend Chris Kelly's funeral

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Rod Blagojevich and his wife, Patti, plan to attend Wednesday's funeral of
Chris Kelly, the former governor's one-time fund-raiser and close aide.
The indicted former governor, through his publicist, announced his plans to
attend the funeral in Western Springs.
There was no word if he would attend tonight's wake in Roselle.
Kelly died Saturday following an apparent overdose.

More details on his death are expected to be released by Country Club Hills officials this
afternoon.

Rod and Patti do "The View."

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Our Kara Spak writes today that audience members of "The View," walked away with copies of the ex-governor's new book, but little new insight into Illinois' former first couple.
Blago tossed out some of stale lines he's repeated on TV, proclaiming his innocence.
He and Patti fielded mostly softball questions from the panel, including from guest host Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

Patti Blagojevich initially offered to donate all the money she raises on her reality TV show to Bear Necessities.
One catch.
Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation is affiliated with Children's Memorial Hospital. Rod Blagojevich is accused of shaking down the Children's Memorial Hospital executive director for a $50,000 campaign contribution. According to charges, Blagojevich said he'd hold up state funding for Children's Memorial if he didn't get the money. So Bear Necessities said: thanks, but no thanks, to Patti.
"We're very flattered to be considered. Just because of the charges against the former governor in association with Children's we don't want to harm that relationship with them," Bear Necessities PR Director Courtney Krupa told me today.
Krupa said NBC approached them last Tuesday. The board took it up and turned it down. The foundation notified NBC Thursday, Krupa said.
Krupa said it was unfortunate that the foundation had to turn down the offer.
"It is (unfortunate) in a sense that it's a good opportunity for us for potential dollars coming in as well as public awareness for the organization," she said. "Our board felt that with everything going on and with the charges against the former governor with Children's we just want to be cautious because we don't want to harm relationships with supporters."

ADDENDUM from Patti's PR agency: When the men voted to give Patti Blagojevich immunity on 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here' children battling cancer and their families benefitted.

That's because the longer a celebrity stays on the NBC blockbuster summer program, the more money that goes to a celebrity's charity of choice. And Blagojevich, the wife of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, chose the Children's Cancer Center in Tampa.


For those who do want to donate to the pediatric cancer foundation, visit www.bearnecessities.org or call the general number 312-214-1200.

Here's the statement from Bear Necessities (not to be confused with Bare Necessities) on Patti Blagojevich:

Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation was recently approached by the producers of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" to be the official charity for former Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich. We were flattered to be considered for a high profile opportunity to raise money and awareness for Bear Necessities. However, we declined the opportunity because her husband, former Gov. Blagojevich, faces federal charges which include an alleged extortion of our partner, Children's Memorial Hospital. We wish the show and Mrs. Blagojevich the best of luck and appreciate the offer. However, our long time partnership with Children's has made great strides in fulfilling Bear's mission of curing the scourge of pediatric cancer and we would never want to do anything to harm that relationship.

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