* Rod Blagojevich writing in the Wall St. Journal…
The rule of law is under assault in America. It is being perverted and abused by the people sworn to enforce and uphold it. Some in the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are abusing their power to criminalize the routine practices of politics and government.
I learned the hard way what happens when an investigation comes up empty after the government has invested time, resources and manpower. When they can’t prove a crime, they create one. Did you know that an elected official asking for a campaign contribution is the same as a dirty cop asking a motorist for a cash bribe to tear up a speeding ticket? I never did. Yet that’s what a federal prosecutor told the jury during my second trial on bribery and extortion charges in 2011.
Fundraising is a routine and necessary part of America’s political system. You can’t compete in politics, and you can’t govern from a position of strength, if you are perceived as weak. Building and maintaining a healthy war chest helps lead to success. For most people in the political arena, the fundraising part of the job is no fun. I liken it to exercise. It hurts but it makes you healthy and strong.
The problem, of course, was that Blagojevich’s fundraising practices were too often “unhealthy.”
* From Blagojevich’s 2010 trial…
At several points, [John Wyma] said, Blagojevich appeared to link spending on certain state projects to campaign cash from donors likely to benefit from the state help.
“If they don’t perform, (expletive) ‘em,” Blagojevich allegedly told Wyma at one point.
At a meeting Oct. 8, Wyma said Children’s Memorial Hospital came up. The governor, Wyma said, mentioned how he had recently been called by former Cubs manager and ex-hospital board member Dusty Baker about raising Medicaid reimbursement rates to pediatric specialists at the hospital by at least $8 million.
The hospital had been seeking the boost for years. Wyma said Blagojevich told him he was going to give the go-ahead — but with a caveat. The governor wanted Children’s CEO Patrick Magoon to kick in a $50,000 donation to his campaign, Wyma said.
* Also from the 2010 trial…
In a phone conversation in mid-October with Children’s CEO Patrick Magoon, the Governor said he would approve a $10 million increase in the Medicaid payments and that Magoon should keep this quiet until the end of the year when it would take effect.
Five days after that call, prosecutors say Magoon received a call from the governor’s brother Robert asking Magoon “to raise $25,000 for the governor.”
An uncomfortable Magoon didn’t respond and wouldn’t take later calls from the governor’s brother.
On November 12, in a meeting at Blagojevich campaign headquarters, the governor’s long time friend Lon Monk says the governor “got upset” that no fund raiser had been set up, and he said words to the effect, “screw them.”
Then Rod Blagojevich made a call to his deputy Governor Rob Greenlee - call 572 - secretly recorded by the FBI in which the governor asks if they could pull back the Medicaid increase for Children’s Memorial if we needed to - budgetary concerns, right? Greenlee put the brakes on the plan, and Children’s never got the money.