Gov. fails to deliver funds to museum

December 10, 2008 5:31:56 PM PST
The I-Team has learned that the board of directors of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in downtown Chicago voted to sell its building because Gov. Blagojevich never delivered one dime of the millions of dollars he promised a few years ago in state funding. "When I left the capitol that night, I thought I found my new best friend," said Bruce Dumont, head of the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

For Dumont, that friendship with Gov. Rod Blagojevich was the beginning of what he calls the worst time of his life.

In 2005, Mr. Blagojevich promised $8 million in state money to bankroll the museum. Counting on the governor's word and the funding, the museum's construction at Kinzie and State St. went full steam ahead. But the money never came.

"They wanted to buy silence. They didn't want anybody to state the facts in the case. And I was not stating opinions, I was stating fact," said Dumont.

Every time Dumont stated publicly that the governor wasn't keeping his promise, chief of staff John Harris would let him have it.

"I would get a call if not directly indirectly that it was not appreciated, you know, just shut your mouth," said Dumont.

With construction stopped, millions in unpaid bills and lawsuits a plenty, Dumont says the museum board voted to sell its own building - before ever opening.

"We owe 4.7 on the construction. There is a lien against the property and because of the lien against the property, the difficulty to raise funds, given the economic situation, and the failure of the state to deliver on either an $8 million, $6 million, or even $3 million donation, the museum is going to be forced to sell the property," said Dumont.

That is just one of the many situations that former Gov. Jim Thompson's law firm had on its plate the past few years in representing Gov. Blagojevich. Winston and Strawn unsuccessfully defended former Governor George Ryan against corruption charges and no longer represents Blagojevich.

"It was a mutual parting of the ways," said former Gov. Thompson.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7's Ravi Baichwal, the law firm chairman denies that they dropped Blagojevich, sensing that he was about to get nailed.

"We don't operate like that. We don't abandon clients if they are in trouble. It had nothing to do with it," said former Gov. Thompson.

On one of the tapes, Blagojevich alludes to being in financial trouble. ABC7 has learned that the governor owes millions of dollars in back fees to the law firm of Winston and Strawn, according to those familiar with the matter.


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