A look back at Blagojevich's career

January 29, 2009 9:20:36 PM PST
It's Rod Blagojevich's first night as a civilian at his Chicago home in six years. His future is uncertain after a decades long climb to the top of Illinois politics.

Early in his career, Rod Blagojevich worked for Alderman Ed Vrdolyak who recently pleaded guilty to federal charges.

But it was as the assistant Cook County state's attorney alongside Mayor Daley that he began to build his powerbase and with the backing of his powerful father-in-law, Dick Mell, he won a seat in the U.S. House.

"I stand before you as your next congressman, the son of an immigrant laborer," said Blagojevich.

Three years later, Blagojevich gained national attention when he traveled to Serbia with Reverend Jesse Jackson to secure the release of American prisoners of war.

"I feel it's a modest way for me to serve my country," said Blagojevich.

Then in 2002, he campaigned for the highest office in the state as the term of Republican governor George Ryan was unraveling under a scandal. Ryan is now serving a six year prison sentence on a bribery conviction.

Blagojevich beat Jim Ryan and pledged to end business as usual. His tenure was marred by public squabble with his father-in-law, then questions were raised over concession contracts given to campaign contributors.

Even so he was re-elected. But as his relationship with the legislature in Springfield soured, there was talk of federal investigations.

Campaign fundraisers Tony Rezko and Stuart Levine were indicted in a kickback scheme. Levine pleaded guilty and Rezko was convicted in a trial.

Then Blagojevich himself was arrested last month.

"Anybody wants to tape my conversations, go right ahead. Feel free to do it. I appreciate anyone who wants to tape me openly and notoriously," said Blagojevich.

His final actions in office included the pardon of convicted drug dealer Jimmy Beck. Blagojevich also cleaned the slate for wealthy Chicago real estate developer Fred Latsko who was convicted in 1985 for deception and forgery. He was pardoned by Governor Thompson.

But on Thursday Blagojevich expunged his record as if it never happened.