Ex-ally: ‘A lot of money’ promised to Rod Blagojevich for Senate seat
BY NATASHA KORECKI AND LARK TURNER Chicago Sun-Times May 11, 2011 7:04PM
Former Governor Rod Blagojevich tells his wife Patti to hold a moment in order to greet well-wishers following his corruption retrial hearing Thursday, May 11, 2011, at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: June 13, 2011 2:03PM
Five hours after meeting with U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill) in October of 2008, a fund-raiser told Rod Blagojevich’s brother that the then-governor would get “a lot of money” in exchange for a Jackson Senate seat appointment, according to testimony in Blagojevich’s retrial on Wednesday.
Rajinder Bedi, testifying with a grant of immunity, said that on Oct. 28, 2008, he, Jackson, and another fund-raiser, Raghu Nayak, met at 312 Restaurant in the Loop for a breakfast meeting. Bedi, then head of the state Office of Trade and Investment, said both the Senate seat appointment and fund-raising were discussed at the meeting.
“Was there conversation about congressman Jackson’s interest in the senate seat?” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner asked Bedi.
“Yes,” Bedi said.
“Did Nayak also talk to you about fund-raising?” Niewoehner asked.
“Yes he did,” Bedi said.
Niewoehner did not get into the specifics of the conversations or the extent of Jackson’s involvement.
Bedi testified that later that afternoon, he met with the governor’s brother and campaign fund chief Robert Blagojevich and told him Nayak would raise “a lot of money” for his brother if he appointed Jackson to Barack Obama’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.
It was an offer that Robert Blagojevich rejected, Bedi said. Rod Blagojevich has been heard on tape describing Jackson as a “repugnant” choice for Senate. But prosecutors contend Blagojevich was running out of options in the days before his Dec. 9, 2008 arrest and had elevated Jackson as a possibility because he had offered money.
Defense lawyer Shelly Sorosky asked Bedi if he offered Blagojevich a specific amount of money.
“I said: ‘a lot of money.’”
Apparently referencing last summer’s trial, Sorosky asked Bedi if he mentioned $1 million to Robert Blagojevich. Bedi said he didn’t remember.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported in April that Nayak is under federal investigation and dozens of doctors who work at Nayak’s surgical centers were subpoenaed by a grand jury. The Sun-Times reported last year that Nayak, who has been interviewed by the feds, told authorities Jackson asked him in a private conversation to approach Blagojevich with a pay-to-play offer for the Senate seat. Jackson called the allegation “preposterous.”
A Jackson spokesman on Wednesday had no immediate comment.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, jurors heard Blagojevich on tape issuing a resounding ‘f--- you’ to people ranging from Rahm Emanuel to Harry Reid to the citizens of Illinois.
“I f------ busted my a--- and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free f------ ride on a bus, OK? I gave your f------ baby a chance to have healthcare,” Blagojevich angrily tells his former deputy governor Robert Greenlee in a Nov. 4, 2008 call. “And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you out there think I’m doing a good job. So f--- all of you.”
Greenlee spent most of Wednesday on the witness stand while prosecutors quizzed him about Blagojevich’s alleged pay-to-play schemes, focusing on the Senate seat.
Greenlee’s testimony focused on charges that Blagojevich hoped to sell the Senate seat to Jackson.
Blagojevich began to seriously consider Jackson in the beginning of December, Greenlee said. In a Dec. 4 call, Greenlee suggests appointing Tammy Duckworth to appease President-elect Barack Obama.
“Get the f--- outta here, Greenlee. I’ll f------ fire you,” Blagojevich snaps. “She’s got no f------chance. I’m gonna f------ take hits in the black community for Durbin and f------ Harry Reid and Rahm, f--- them and [David] Axelrod.”
In court, Greenlee said he took the threat seriously.