Blagojevich lawyer interested in Deb Mell’s House seat
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org January 4, 2013 12:00PM
In this courtroom sketch, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is questioned by defense attorney Aaron Goldstein, right, as Blagojevich takes the witness stand in his second corruption trial, Thursday, May 26, 2011. | AP
Updated: February 6, 2013 6:09AM
Now that there’s talk of Rod Blagojevich’s sister-in-law vacating her state House seat, someone else with ties to Blagojevich says he may want to take her place: Blagojevich’s lawyer.
Aaron Goldstein, who headed Blagojevich’s second trial, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that he is “seriously considering” running to replace Deb Mell after the Sun-Times reported that Mell’s father, longtime powerful alderman Dick Mell (33rd), told associates he was preparing to step down within the next few months.
Sources said Mell, 74, has persuaded Mayor Rahm Emanuel to appoint his daughter, State Rep. Deb Mell, to replace him in the City Council. Deb Mell is the sister of Patti Blagojevich, Rod’s wife.
Goldstein said he had heard rumors for awhile that Dick Mell may retire and had the thought tucked in the back of his mind since then.
“I’ve always wanted to get into politics, my background has been one, a progressive agenda. I know it sounds hokey, but I have always wanted to fight for the people,” he told the Sun-Times Friday.
Blagojevich was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison following several years of fighting the charges and draining a campaign fund to cover legal fees. At trial, a parade of former aides testified about their old boss. Prosecutors played tape after tape of Blagojevich secretly talking about trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, which Blagojevich famously referred to as “f---ing golden.”
Goldstein is the second Blagojevich lawyer who after the experience expressed interest into entering the political fray. The bombastic Sam Adam Jr., who represented Blagojevich in the first trial, had once said he wanted to run for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s old seat in the 2nd Congressional District.
Goldstein lives in Albany Park, said he learned some life lessons about politics representing the former governor.
Goldstein was involved in both Blagojevich’s trials and was the lead attorney in Blagojevich’s second trial. He cross-examined key witnesses, including numerous former colleagues of the onetime governor.
“I’ve always had the interest, I think what (the Blagojevich trials have) done, I’ve experienced so much. Obviously, there’s a certain side of it that I want nothing to do with, the political indictments,” Goldstein said. “I realistically learned how politics works for better or for worse.”
Goldstein, 37, is married and the father of two young daughters. He runs a private law firm and is also one of the attorneys representing Cook County Commissioner William Beavers, who faces trial in March.
“Crime is an issue, and certainly I want to do something about crime. I really think the big issues are fighting crime, fighting for jobs, (being) pro-union, fighting for the working class,” Goldstein said. “Whenever people are employed, crime goes down.”
He described himself as a progressive Democrat: “I support Deb Mell and her fight for gay marriage.”
Goldstein was once a Cook County public defender and interned for the Illinois Coalition for the Homeless. He also teaches at North Park University and DePaul Law School.
“I’ve been able to gain confidence in my ability to communicate my messages,” said Goldstein, who held dozens of news conferences during the Blagojevich trial. “This is something I’m really interested in.”