Feds throw wrench into Blagojevich publicity machine

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich at the Illinois State Capitol on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
April 14, 2010 4:59:14 AM PDT
In a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, federal prosecutors in Chicago chastised ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday for complaining about prejudicial publicity.

Mr. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois and current TV performer, radio show host and book author, wants to keep secret a government filing of the evidence against him. The Santiago proffer, that amounts to a line-up of witnesses and exhibits, could poison the jury pool according to a motion by the impeached governor's legal team.

In it's response Tuesday for consideration by Judge James Zagel who is considering release of the proffer, federal prosecutors fired back at Blagojevich using his own TV appearances as ammunition.

"Notwithstanding the recent airing of a national television show in which he repeatedly claimed his innocence, Rod Blagojevich now argues that he would be unfairly prejudiced by the publication of the actual evidence that will be heard at his trial," the prosecutors said.

Mr. Blagojevich is due to stand trial beginning in early June with his brother Robert, who was the chairman of the former governor's fundraising arm.

Robert Blagojevich's lawyer filed court papers Monday saying the proffer should remain under seal or if it's not, should be made public in its entirety. Attorney Michael Ettinger described the document as an inaccurate account of the FBI's secretly recorded tapes. Prosecutors are urging Judge Zagel to ignore that argument, suggesting that even if prospective jurors were biased by news accounts of the document, there would be ample time to weed them out in the jury selection process.

Rod Blagojevich's attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, urged Zagel at a hearing last week to keep the document under seal and out of public sight to avoid prejudicing potential jurors.

Judge Zagel has said that he will decide tomorrow whether the proffer should be unsealed and if so, whether parts should be deleted.

The most explosive allegation against Blagojevich is that he plotted to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. Among the other charges he faces are that he used his position as governor illegally pressure campaign contributors by selling jobs and appointments.


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