Blago seeks judge's OK to appear in reality TV show

July 21, 2010 9:37:53 AM PDT
Rod Blagojevich's lawyers sought a federal judge's permission to appear on a reality TV show on Monday.The request was made during a status hearing in the former governor's corruption case.

With the bad rap that reality shows have been getting the past week, you might think that Rod Blagojevich would be looking for more conventional work. But even as his lawyers were in federal court in Chicago, Illinois' disgraced governor was working on Donald Trump's latest installment of "Celebrity Apprentice."

As Donald Trump's celebrity incarnation of his apprentice show tapes in New York, Mr. Blagojevich isn't the only headliner. He is joined by several pro wrestlers, a former drug-addicted baseball player and a pop icon from the 80s. But as an unemployed politician awaiting trial on corruption charges, only Mr. Blagojevich's appearance was in jeopardy Monday.

"When they ripped him out of office on December 9th, on that cold December morning, what was his approval rating? Zero. Zero. He's got nowhere to go but up," said Sam Adam Jr., Blagojevich's lawyer.

As the impeached Illinois governor is in New York, maybe trying to jump start his approval rating, the governor's lawyers were in the Chicago courtroom of Judge James Zagel. Prosecutors asked that Blagojevich's comments on the trump TV show be limited, so as not to poison the pool of jurors who will decide his fate at next June's trial.

But Judge Zagel - who confessed to actually having seen two episodes of the apprentice show - declined to set ground rules. Zagel instead told defense and government lawyers to work it out.

"When the government comes up an gives a press conference talking about specifics, talking about Lincoln rolling over in his grave, talking about this is a crime spree gone wrong, what happens, nothing. But as soon as Gov. Blagojevich gets up there and happens to have a podium, happens to have a stump to stand out on and says wait Lincoln rolled back because he knows I didn't do it or this is not a crime spree gone the only crime is that I'm charged," said Adams.

"There have been so many radio shows, newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, it defies belief that the timing of one particular TV show would be so important as to harm the integrity of the process," said Harold Krent, Kent College of Law.

So in businesses where integrity is king - Illinois politics and reality TV - Rod Blagojevich, the unemployed ex-governor, will try to avoid the ultimate penalty.

If Blagojevich's lawyers and the government can actually work out some limits to his speech on TV, the public won't know about it. All of that will be sealed by the court. And there is no time frame either. But since the show is taping right now, odds are it won't have much effect.


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