Family defends Patti Blagojevich

December 11, 2008 7:14:07 AM PST
The governor's wife's family is coming to her defense. Governor Rod Blagojevich had yet to comment publicly on the growing number of politicians asking him to step aside as of Thursday morning. In the meantime, Patti Blagojevich's family is coming to her aid and offering support for the governor's wife.

Her father, Chicago Ald. Dick Mell, told the Sun-Times Thursday morning that his daughter Patti can be standoffish at times when it comes to her husband, the governor. But Mell told the paper the profanity-laced wiretaps in the federal complaint that include quotes from his daughter are not representative of her personality.

Patti Blagojevich's father, sister and brother were all refuting the foul-mouthed portrait that's been drawn of Patti since the governor's arrest.

Federal prosecutors say the 52-year-old Rod Blagojevich plotted to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. In the criminal complaint against him, his 43-year-old wife emerges in recorded phone conversations as a scheming woman who tried to punish those who got in her way.

Dick Mell, state Representative-elect Deborah Mell, and Rich Mell told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday that Patti Blagojevich was living in a "pressure cooker" and those comments don't reflect who she really is.

Dick Mell says his daughter is "loyal sometimes to a fault."

"That is absolutely not my sister," Deborah Mell said. "Patti is a mother, a sister and a devoted wife. She is particularly protective of her family."

According to the complaint, Patti Blagojevich was the voice in the background spewing an ugly suggestion to "just fire" some newspaper editors if the Tribune Co. hoped for state assistance to sell Wrigley Field, the storied home of the Chicago Cubs.

"Hold up that (expletive) Cubs (expletive)," she says as her husband is talking on the telephone. "(Expletive) them."

Patti Blagojevich's family acknowledged the harsh language contained on the recordings but said those words were uttered at a stressful time as both she and her husband were under federal scrutiny.

"I can understand it. This a pressure cooker she's living in," Deborah Mell said.

Patti Blagojevich has not been charged with any wrongdoing, and she has not spoken publicly since her husband's arrest.

Dick Mell said his oldest daughter would "jump down (his) throat" when he argued with Rod Blagojevich at holiday gatherings.

Dick Mell helped his son-in-law in his first run for governor, but a year after his election in 2002, the alderman publicly questioned if Blagojevich fundraisers were trading political contributions for state jobs.

"At that time, I felt that I was right to say what I said. I don't know, that's ancient history," Mell said.

A breach formed between father and daughter and Mell said a conversation he had with Patti Blagojevich Wednesday was the first time they had spoken in "quite a while."

"She said she's going through a rough time," he said. "But she said, as rough as it is, what happened two years ago when her mother died was harder."

Deborah Mell said the Blagojevich's children, 12-year-old Amy and 5-year-old Annie, weren't being teased in school. But Rich Mell said he is upset by the scrutiny of Patti, Amy, and Annie.

"There's a family involved," Rich Mell said. "It makes me angry."

Deborah Mell, who will be sworn in as a state representative next month, said she didn't know how she'd vote if a vote to impeach her brother-in-law came before the General Assembly.

"I don't know what's going to happen. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," she said. "I've thought about it briefly. That's not my focus right now."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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