* 2:52 pm - So far, Alexi Giannoulias has said that his only involvement with the US Senate vacancy was setting up a meeting between SEIU President Tom Balanoff and Valerie Jarrett.
But Balanoff testified today that Giannoulias was interested in the appointment as well. From the Sun-Times…
“I heard from Blagojevich, he said [Valerie Jarrett] is not interested,” [Balanoff] said he told Giannoulias.
“If the governor called her in the next hour or so if he offered a job would she take it? And he said no. He thought it was a real shame that Blagojevich did not appoint Jarrett.”
Then Giannoulias said this: “In passing he said, maybe he’ll appoint me,” Balanoff said.
[Balanoff] says Alexi Giannoulias, a friend to then President-Elect Barack Obama, asked him to ask Blagojevich about a possible appointment for him.
In a Nov. 24th meeting, Balanoff raises the point.
Blagojevich bristled, he testified.
“That mother f—–, I wouldn’t do s— for him. Every chance he got he took a shot at me.”
Expect a Mark Kirk/GOP response in 3… 2… 1…
*** UPDATE 1 - 3:35 pm *** From the Illinois GOP….
…Balanoff’s sworn version of events directly contradicts at least three claims made by Alexi Giannoulias.
December 4, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that Rod Blagojevich’s staff had reached out to him about a possible appointment to the vacant Senate seat.
Giannoulias also said that staff within Blagojevich’s office have “reached out” to him as a possible candidate to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, though a Blagojevich spokesman said the governor has not contacted Giannoulias directly.
December 4, 2008: In the same interview, Giannoulias told the Chicago Tribune that he was not “pushing for the seat”
Giannoulias said he’s not pushing for the seat, but if it’s offered he’d have to take a “very, very hard look,” at the opportunity to work in Washington D.C. alongside his close friend Obama.
December 12, 2008: Alexi Giannoulias said that he hadn’t “really thought about” Obama’s Senate seat.
Giannoulias, a Democrat, said he’s been busy sorting through the state’s financial woes following Tuesday’s arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
“I haven’t really thought about it to be honest with you,” he said during an appearance at Aurora University. “I’ve been focused on trying to do my job and trying to rebuild the public’s trust in us as elected officials.”
*** UPDATE 2 - 4:47 pm *** From the Giannoulias campaign…
“As he has discussed openly, and which was confirmed by today’s testimony, Alexi was a strong advocate for Valerie Jarrett’s appointment to the vacant Senate seat. When Valerie signaled she was no longer a candidate, Alexi half-jokingly raised the idea with his friend Tom Balanoff of being appointed himself, never expecting for the request to be passed along to the former governor. The former governor’s response – an expletive-laced tirade – says all you need to know about the seriousness of this idea and the relationship between the two of them.” - Matt McGrath
*** UPDATE 3 - 5:09 pm *** From NBC’s John Yang…
After Jarrett publicly took herself out of contention, Balanoff said he had a conversation with State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a protege and basketball buddy of Obama’s, who is now the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat. Of that conversation, Balanoff said: “In passing he said, ‘Maybe he’ll appoint me.’” [Emphasis added.]