Blagojevich writes in "The Governor" that Emanuel spoke with him
about whether it was possible to appoint a "placeholder" to the
congressional seat Emanuel was giving up so that he could win back
the seat in 2010 and continue his efforts to become speaker some
"As we have done for many months, we will continue to decline
comment," Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg said in an e-mail
Blagojevich also admits that he wanted something in exchange for
appointing President Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate, but
it wasn't the deal described in federal corruption charges against
The Chicago Democrat says that the night before his arrest in
December, he had launched a plan to appoint Illinois Attorney
General Lisa Madigan to the Senate seat because he hoped to cut a
deal on pet projects with her father, powerful Illinois House
Speaker Michael Madigan.
That plan was ruined by his arrest. Blagojevich writes that he
eventually appointed Roland Burris, in part because of Burris'
famously big ego. No one else but Burris would accept the
appointment and fight to be seated under the circumstances,
Burris' office declined to comment.
The ex-governor's 264-page book, published by Phoenix, comes out
Sept. 8. It offers a benign picture of events surrounding
Blagojevich's arrest in a corruption scandal that U.S. Attorney
Patrick Fitzgerald said would make Abraham Lincoln "roll over in his
The scandal cost Blagojevich his job when lawmakers impeached and
threw him out of office in January. The once-rising political star
is scheduled to stand trial next year. Blagojevich, who has pleaded
not guilty, repeatedly asserts his innocence in the book.
He says his discussions about Obama's possible successors
amounted to "ordinary and routine politicking."
But federal authorities cast it in a much different light,
alleging Blagojevich was caught on FBI wiretaps discussing what he
could get in exchange for the seat, from jobs to campaign
Blagojevich says that story is "upside down" and that he never
asked for, or raised the subject of, campaign contributions in
exchange for the Senate seat.
Others approached his administration with offers of campaign
money, he says in "The Governor" without naming names. "If anyone
should have been charged with a crime for this, it should have been
them and not me," he writes.
When Blagojevich talked to Emanuel after the election about the
Senate pick, Obama's right-hand man "did not lobby for anyone in
particular," according to the book.
Blagojevich says Emanuel was interested in his own career because
he had to give up his congressional seat to work in Obama's White
House. Blagojevich writes that Emanuel dreamed of being speaker of
the U.S. House and wanted to know if Blagojevich would work with him
to name a successor to "hold" his seat until he wanted it back.
[to top of second column]
Blagojevich says he told Emanuel he didn't think he could do that and the House
vacancy would have to be filled by special election. But Emanuel reportedly told
him "his lawyers thought there was a way."
Blagojevich writes that he
struggled with the idea of appointing Lisa Madigan to the Senate.
The prospect "repulsed" him because of bad blood with her father.
But in the end, Blagojevich saw it as a way to entice Michael
Madigan to support legislation he wanted, including a long-stalled
statewide construction program that he said would create jobs and
expand health care access for families.
Blagojevich says he told his chief of staff, John Harris, to
begin working on a deal to appoint Lisa Madigan. The deal was halted
when both Blagojevich and Harris were arrested the next day, Dec. 9,
"Mr. Fitzgerald didn't stop a crime spree. He stopped me from
doing a lot of good for a lot of people," Blagojevich writes.
Harris has since agreed to testify against Blagojevich, after
pleading guilty and admitting that he repeatedly talked to the
then-governor about ways he could profit from his authority to
appoint Obama's successor.
It's unclear if the Madigans were aware of Blagojevich's
intentions. Lisa Madigan said last November she thought there was a
"less than zero" chance Blagojevich would appoint her.
Madigan's spokeswomen, Robyn Ziegler, said the attorney general
hasn't read the book and doesn't intend to.
Madigan was widely seen as a potent challenge to Blagojevich if
he ran for a third term in 2010. After he was arrested, Blagojevich
writes, he was a "political leper."
He decided to fill the Senate vacancy by appointing Burris, the
former state comptroller and attorney general and the first black
man to hold a major statewide office in Illinois. Blagojevich said
Burris was qualified and had the self-confidence to accept the
appointment despite the scandal.
"It was that self-esteem that I was counting on to be able to
withstand the storm of protest that was inevitably going to come,"
By DEANNA BELLANDI]
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