• WEATHER ALERT Winter Weather Advisory

About Rod Blagojevich

December 9, 2008 8:50:27 PM PST
Rod R. Blagojevich was arrested on the day before his birthday, which is December 10. He is 51 years old. Blagojevich grew up in Chicago and went to school in Evanston, Ill., at Northwestern University. He graduated from NU in 1979 and received his law degree from Pepperdine in 1983.

He was elected governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. From 1997-2002, Blagojevich served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served in the Illinois House from 1992-1996, representing the North Side Chicago district. Before that, as an assistant Cook County state's attorney, he prosecuted criminal cases.

Blagojevich is married. He and his wife, Patricia, have two daughters and live on the Northwest Side in the city's Ravenswood Manor neighborhood.

A Review of Blagojevich's Career

His rise to political prominence came with the help of family connections and good timing.

"I stand before you as your next congressman - the son of an immigrant laborer who worked right here at Finkl Steel Company!" said Blagojevich.

When Blagojevich won his seat in congress in 1996, he did so by beating a Republican who had stepped into the job following the fall of powerful Congressman Dan Rostenkowski. Rostenkowski went to prison on mail fraud charges.

Blagojevich had built his own power base with the assistance of his father-in-law, Alderman Dick Mell.

Mell's backing had earlier helped Blagojevich win election to the Illinois House. Blagojevich had also worked under the current Mayor Daley as an assistant state's attorney And, early in his career, he worked for then-alderman Ed Vrdolyak. Vrdolyak himself recently pleaded guilty to federal charges.

As a congressman, Blagojevich moved into the national spotlight in 1999 when he traveled to Serbia with the Reverend Jesse Jackson to secure the release of American prisoners of war.

"I feel, it's a modest way for me to serve my country, the United States of America, as I leave the country my father came from," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich set his sights on the governor's office as the term of Republican George Ryan was unraveling under scandal. Ryan is now in prison on a bribery conviction.

Blagojevich promised to end "business as usual" in state government. His tenure though was marred early by a public squabble with his father-in-law over a decision to shut down a landfill run by a relative.

Then questions were raised over tollway concession contracts given to campaign contributors. Even so, Blagojevich was elected to a second term.

Since then, the relationship between the governor and the legislature in Springfield has soured and the governor's approval ratings have plummeted with continuing talk of federal investigations of one kind or another.

Campaign fundraisers Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine were indicted in a kickback scheme. Levine pleaded guilty. Rezko was convicted in a trial where the governor's name was mentioned frequently but through all that, Blagojevich was not charged.


Load Comments