Giannoulias subpoenaed for Blagojevich trial

July 21, 2010 8:08:04 AM PDT
U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias has received a subpoena to testify at the corruption trial of Rod Blagojevich.The first-term state treasurer is a Democrat locked in a tough race for President Obama's old Senate seat with Republican Congressman Mark Kirk.

While Kirk is making the subpoena a campaign issue, Giannoulias says he is not worried about the possibility of testifying or about the impact on his senate race.

The state treasurer joins a long list of politicians who are on the defense teams possible witness list. Blagojevich's attorney's even tried to subpoena President Obama.

Shaking hands at the gay Pride Parade Sunday, Giannoulis tried to shake off the news that he had been subpoenaed by Blagojevich's defense team.

"Everyone from the president to the dog catcher, it seems like the defense team is trying to turn this into a real big circus," Giannoulias said.

Giannoulias' name came up at the former governor's trial last week when prosecutors played tapes of conversations between Blagojevich and his former chief of staff, John Harris. The government was presenting evidence about the charge that deals with the sale of Obama's seat.

Giannoulias says, as a favor to labor leader Tom Balanoff, he called Harris to promote Valerie Jarrett as possible Senate candidate.

Giannoulias says that was the extent of his involvement.

"I'm not too worried about it," he said Sunday.

However, UIC political science department head Dick Simpson says, politically, Giannoulias should be worried.

"It doesn't matter. If he has only a bit part, it is still going to be easy for Kirk to link him to Blagojevich," Simpson said.

And that is exactly what Kirk is doing. The Kirk campaign released a statement Sunday that read, "This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer."

Some polls show the race is a dead heat. So, what is the likelihood of Giannoulias being called to the witness stand?

"I don't think there is much of a likelihood of getting Giannoulias on the stand. The judge is getting tired of the circus-like atmosphere. He doesn't want big-name personalities testifying to keep Blagojevich in the news. He wants to keep those people off of the stand, unless they have something really relevant to say," said Leonard Cavise, DePaul University College of Law.

Cavise says it is likely Giannoulias' attorney will try to quash the subpoena and that a judge would grant that request if he determines Giannoulias' testimony is not needed.

Giannoulias says he has never spoken with the president or the former governor about anything related to Obama's Senate seat.


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