Blago signs books at U of C

Will you read "The Governor"?
July 21, 2010 9:24:58 AM PDT
Wednesday marks one year since former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges. Now, attorneys for Blagojevich are watching two cases being argued before the Supreme Court involving the "honest services" law. They say upcoming rulings will affect their case.

The federal "honest services" statute has been the foundation of public corruption cases for more than two decades, and it appears to be on some shaky ground. The Supreme Court Tuesday heard arguments on two of three big cases regarding honest services, and there is every indication the court will change how this important legal concept is used.

Ex-governor Blagojevich could be a beneficiary of any changes, though when asked about it Tuesday afternoon, he stuck to his talking points. The former governor signed copies of the book for students at the University of Chicago. Though the book came out several months ago, this first Blagojevich book signing came on the eve of the anniversary of the governor's arrest last year.

Some of the students say they bought the book for fun, gag gifts, they said, and others are looking forward to reading it.

As for the debate over honest services and the likelihood he will be reindicted, Blagojevich, in full campaign style, says it's immaterial.

"I know I have something a lot more powerful than the people in the government, very simple. It's called the simple truth. If you are telling the truth, it is the same today as it was last year. It is interesting my accusers are telling a different story today," said Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich may be helped by the argument over the honor services statute. The Supreme Court justices signaled in the questions and comments that they're concerned that the statute is too vague, too broad, subject to possible abuse by overzealous prosecutors.

"The court was obviously taking the problems very seriously and was very troubled by the sweep and the vagueness of the statute," said Miguel Estrada, defense attorney.

The Supreme Court will likely narrow the focus of the honest services statute, which forms part of the foundation of 12 of the counts against Blagojevich. Prosecutors say they'll revise the counts and that will not jeopardize their case.

And Blagojevich, in full campaign mode, says the feds never had a case to begin with.

"When the truth comes out, you will have not just an epic story, but if you like scandal, you've got a scandalous story: a governor stolen, from the people who elected him twice, based on false accusations," said Blagojevich.

Blagojevich said again Tuesday he will testify at his trial, that he wants all the tapes to be heard, and that he will be vindicated.

Prosecutors will likely reindict Blagojevich not on new charges but restructured charges that rely on a traditional fraud count. It doesn't change the case much but makes proving the charges more difficult than if the honest services statute were still in play.


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