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Judge releases Blago tape recordings

In this April 21, 2009 file photo, ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is seen leaving federal court in Chicago. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
June 15, 2010 9:09:15 PM PDT
Tape recordings of conversations between former governor Rod Blagojevich and his inner circle are being released to the public as they are entered into evidence.

Listen to the tapes or read the transcripts- as they become available- by clicking here. (NOTE: You must open the PDF file of the transcript to find the audio file. The recordings contain some obscenities.)

Blagojevich is on trial for allegedly trying to sell or trade the U.S. Senate vacated by President Barack Obama and pressuring people for campaign donations. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twenty secretly taped conversations have been played so far in court, including some that have not been heard publically before. Prosecutors say that conversation is proof of Blagojevich's pay-to-play politics while he was governor of Illinois.

"Well you gotta go over those lists and then find some more. Just find some people we can call and say, 'Hey look, can you send us $5,000? Can you send us whatever?' You follow me?" said Blagojevich, is heard saying on a recording.

Most are taped phone conversations between the ex-governor, his brother and others. One is a recording from a hidden microphone that the FBI placed in Blagojevich campaign headquarters. That recording is key to the charge against prosecution witness Lon Monk, a longtime friend and former top aide to Blagojevich, and one of the counts against the ex-governor.

The government has sought to show through Monk's testimony that the ex-governor was obsessed with raising campaign money, so much so that he was prepared to trade the U.S. Senate appointment for it.

In the fall of 2008, the ex-governor was recorded talking to his brother Robert - his campaign manager - and wants to know why donors aren't coming through.

Blagojevich: Well who, where we been short at? I mean just a few days ago you were comfortable we'd be at four, when we were in the office.

Robert Blagojevich: Listen to me, Vondra's dropped off.

Blagojevich: Vondra was what, 25. That was not much.

Robert Blagojevich: Rod, listen to me.

Blagojevich: Go ahead.

Robert Blagojevich: (UI) Dropped off?

Blagojevich: Who did?

Robert Blagojevich: The Greeks have dropped off?

Blagojevich: OK.

Robert Blagojevich: OK, that's 50.

Blagojevich: Go, ahead.

Robert Blagojevich: But in terms of having money in the bank, it's, it's gonna be close to get to four million. That's what I'm telling ya.

Blagojevich: Well you gotta somehow get there. And don't pay any bills, just get, get to that four million.

Robert Blagojevich: Right. And don't do any of those f-----g poinsettias and Christmas pictures, you know? Factor that in.

Blagojevich: No, we have to do that. That's, that's an investment.

In another conversation, the governor's brother talks about teaming up with lobbyist Paul Rosenfeld to solicit a contribution.

Robert Blagojevich: See if we can get something going there.

Blagojevich: Yeah, now be real careful there. I mean the FBI went to see Rosenfeld, you understand?

Shortly before his arrest, Blagojevich and Monk met at the former governor's campaign office, which the FBI has bugged. Monk has testified that they're rehearsing how to convince racetrack owner John Johnston to come through with a promised $100,000 campaign contribution and not make it appear that it's linked to racetrack legislation that the governor is waiting to sign.

Monk: Say, and say look he's, he's concerned about signing the bill, but you got, he's gonna sign the bill and all of a sudden you guys are gonna say...

Blagojevich: Correct, or you know all of a sudden you're going to give him a contribution. Now we're concerned.

Monk: He's gonna sign the bill and all of a sudden you're going to give a contribution. Yeah, I don't wanna say that.

Blagojevich: Right.

Monk: 'Cause then he's gonna say, you're right, you know we can't do it right now.

Blagojevich: Right.

Monk: So I wanna say?

Blagojevich: You could say he could sign the bill right after the first of the year. I think you just say that. He's gonna sign all his bills, he's signing all, he's doing all his bills right?

Monk: No. Look, I wanna go to him without crossing the line and say, give us the f-----g money.

Blagojevich: Right.

Monk: (UI), give us the money and one has nothing to do with the other?

Blagojevich: Right.

Monk: ? but give us the f---ing money. Because they're losin', they're losing 9,000 a day.

The defense pointed out Tuesday that Blagojevich does not say he won't do something without getting a donation. In the case of the racetrack legislation, Blagojevich says several times on a different tape that he's going to sign the bill, and racetrack owner John Johnston shouldn't worry about it.

There are roughly 100 taped conversations the government intends to play during the course of the trial.

Defense hammers on Monk during cross examination

Alonzo "Lon" Monk, who served as Blagojevich's chief of staff, took the stand for a fourth day on Tuesday. Monk has testified that he was told to put pressure on campaign contributors for Blagojevich.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. accused Monk of lying to avoid a stiffer sentence. Monk has pleaded guilty to plotting to pressure a racetrack owner for campaign donations.

"When you wrote that you were trying to get your deal weren't you?" asked Adam, referring to a 36-page statement Monk signed in April 2009 when interviewed by the FBI. The statement was in regard to whether Monk considered payments from fundraiser Tony Rezko a type of advance payment for future work. In it, he said the $10,000 from Rezko was only a gift.

"Yes," said Monk.

"90 percent of the maximum knocked off from 20 to 2?" asked Adam.

"Yes," said Monk.

"You didn't want to do 20 years did you?" asked Adam.

"Correct," said Monk.

Adam asked Monk to name the alleged moneymaking schemes that he said were written on a blackboard in 2003 and upon which the racketeering charges against the former governor center.

"Tell us the name of it?" Adam said.

"I can't," Monk said.

"You said there was a figure next to it -- tell us the figure next to it," Adam said.

"I can't recall," Monk said.

Adam kept hammering at Monk, "You were starting to commit crimes that would get you 20 years in the penitentiary and you can't remember the first one?"

"They were ideas," Monk said. At another point, he said: "These were just concepts and ideas -- there wasn't any specificity."

Prosecution objected several times during the cross-examination, but those were sustained by Judge James Zagel, who told Adam "use less loaded words. Speaking in plain tone might help."

Adam is known for his animated court appearances. Monk appeared tired, but calm during the cross examination, which ended Tuesday afternoon.

"I felt a real deep sadness for him...knowing that he's made statements, said things that were not true and now is going to spend time in jail for something he didn't do," said Blagojevich.

The trial adjourned for the day with an associate of convicted fixer Tony Rezko on the stand.

Joseph Aramanda told a complex tale of how hundreds of thousands of dollars traveled between a lobbyist for Bear Stearns, Rezko and a businessman whose company operated restaurants for the state toll roads.

While the lobbyist has been accused of no wrongdoing, prosecutors say Blagojevich and his inner circle steered the money to Bear Stearns as part of a scheme to get a sizable kickback.

Rezko is awaiting sentencing in connection with a $7 million kickback scheme.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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