By Abdon Pallasch
Sun-Times Political Writer
CHICAGO--The newest extortion allegation against ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is that he tried to hold up a $2 million state grant for a Northwest Side school unless Rahm Emanuel would get his Hollywood agent brother to throw a campaign fund-raiser for Blagojevich.
As with some of the other alleged Blagojevich schemes, it's unclear whether his aides ever followed through on his purported orders to shake down then-U.S. Rep. Emanuel, now chief of staff to President Obama. Emanuel's brother is Ari Emanuel, inspiration for Jeremy Piven's brash Ari Gold on HBO's "Entourage."
The school is Chicago Academy, a Chicago Public school in which student teachers learn to teach. Rahm Emanuel was a patron saint of the school. He appeared at the dedication of the $2 million football field/track built out of a former parking lot three years ago.
The indictment says that when Rahm Emanuel called Blagojevich to check on the status of the grant for the project, Blagojevich instructed his chief of staff John Harris not to release the money, which had already been included in the state budget. Blagojevich also told lobbyist John Wyma to approach Rahm Emanuel about a fundraiser.
No fundraiser was ever held, Rahm Emanuel's office confirmed.
The alleged extortion attempt by Blagojevich mirrors his alleged approach to the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital, asking for a $50,000 contribution before following through on a previous promise to increase state medicaid payments to the hospital.