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President, chief of staff were both unaware of important Blagojevich facts

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019

* Chris Kaergard at the Journal Star

“To me, Blagojevich is the definition of the swamp.”

That was part of the message U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood conveyed to President Donald Trump last Thursday in a phone call, hours after the president had suggested he was “strongly” considering commuting the 14-year prison sentence of disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich. […]

LaHood’s call was made to emphasize objections Illinois Republican lawmakers had to releasing Blagojevich roughly halfway through his time behind bars. LaHood detailed the case he made to Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney during an interview Wednesday morning in his Downtown Peoria office.

“If you look at the conduct Blagojevich engaged in, it was pervasive, it was extensive,” he said, noting that it wasn’t just political favor-trading over a Senate seat, but rather a litany of malfeasance: “shaking down the children’s hospital, racetrack owner, film producer, the direct pay-for-play politics.”

* The level of ignorance about the Blagojevich case is simply astounding

Reps. Darin LaHood and Mike Bost, made their case directly to the President on Thursday night, urging him not to go forward. They laid out the litany of crimes Blagojevich committed while in office and argued it would send the wrong message to voters about corruption by public officials.

Trump’s response: “I wish I had the perspective before,” according to Bost, who served on the Illinois House’s impeachment committee to remove Blagojevich from office in 2009. […]

Multiple sources familiar with the calls said Trump and [White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney] both did not seem aware of the details of Blagojevich’s case, even though the President had decried the former governor as being treated “unbelievably unfairly.”

Bost said that while Trump “saw a sentence that didn’t meet the crime … he did express he wished he had the perspective earlier” after speaking with Bost.

* Fox 32

“Listen, I don’t think the President understood the extensive nature of the public corruption that Rod Blagojevich had engaged in. And when I laid that out for him, I think he was surprised by those facts. But I think he listened,” said Rep. LaHood.

* More

Since Trump is fixated on former FBI director James Comey, LaHood also emphasized that he had nothing to do with prosecuting Blagojevich.

LaHood also noted that Democrats Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are against clemency.

“They were surprised to know that and that Democrats removed him from office,” he said.


* Related…

* State seeks to disbar ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich from practicing law more than 8 years after conviction: Grogan said the delay in moving to disbar Blagojevich came because, by Illinois law, regulators have to wait until all appellate options are over before moving to permanently revoke a lawyer’s license.

- Posted by Rich Miller   42 Comments      

It’s way too early for this, but let’s talk about it anyway since Greg brought it up

Wednesday, Oct 31, 2018

* WGN TV’s Tahman Bradley interviewed JB Pritzker yesterday

TB: Gov. Rauner is a wealthy man with no government experience. President Trump, wealthy man, no government experience. You’re a wealthy man, no government experience. How are you different?

Pritzker: Well, that’s not true. I do have government experience. In fact, I think people should take note that if I was some sort of political person that was running for everything, I might not have chosen this year to run just for the point you made. There’s a failed president in Washington, DC who’s a wealthy businessman. There’s a failed governor here in Illinois, who’s a wealthy businessman. But here’s the thing: I bring real experience to the job getting things done for working families.

The only state government experience he has is chairing the Human Rights Commission and occasionally yakking on the phone with Rod Blagojevich. That ain’t much. I get that he’s in campaign mode and has to say those things, but I do hope he doesn’t actually believe that his limited experience means he understands state government. He doesn’t. If elected, he will need people who do understand.

* Brian Mackey

“I had probably as good a resume as anybody going into the governor’s office,” says Jim Edgar, who was governor of Illinois from 1991 to 1999 — after being secretary of state, Gov. Jim Thompson’s top lobbyist, and a state legislator.

“But jiminy, I’ve got to say a lot of things surprised me,” Edgar says. “I can’t imagine people that hadn’t had any experience.”

Edgar says there are ways an amateur politician could help himself in the job: Bring in good people. People who know the history and process of Illinois government. And listen to their advice.

* With that in mind, Greg Hinz takes a look at possible Pritzker administration honchos

Possibly more likely to move to government is former Clinton labor outreach director Nikki Budzinski. A former president of Illini Democrats, she is a senior campaign adviser and would be a solid choice for a policy slot. Ditto scheduler Mary Urbani, political director Sean Rapelyea and Mike Alexander, a former staffer to U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin who’s been around the campaign a lot. Campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen also may have a continuing role.

Some outside names also come up, including state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago, a veteran House member who ran for Congress several years back and lost to Mike Quigley.

Manar’s name came up a lot in my calls, and for good reason: He has excellent legislative ties as former chief of staff to Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, comes from downstate and was chief sponsor of the new education aid package. In other words, he has the inside knowledge of how state government works that Pritzker lacks. He might work as state school superintendent, budget director or even chief of staff. But Manar is having to fight very hard for re-election—so hard that Pritzker might really, really have to lean on him to take the job.

Also mentioned for chief of staff is Steven Collens, who was J.B. Pritzker’s chief of staff at the Pritzker Group and played a key role in putting together the 1871 tech incubator. He now runs health care incubator Matter.

IMHO, under no circumstances should a governor - whoever it is - hire a chief of staff with no state government experience in Illinois. We do not need a Rauner repeat.

Also, while Manar is still campaigning hard all day every day, he’s practically coasting to reelection right now. The GOP has done almost nothing to take him out. But that’s an Andy Manar district. An appointed replacement would have a tougher time. If he ever wants to run statewide, though, he needs to get out of the Senate and move away from his position on guns or he’ll have a rough Democratic primary (unless the field can be cleared). He could be a good chief of staff, though. He could also be a good budget director (so would Sen. Elgie Sims, by the way, or Rep. Greg Harris, or Sen. Heather Steans, or Jessica Basham, or Kristin Richards or a ton of other good people).

Anyway, I’m gonna avoid talking about everyone else because the campaign is still chugging along and I have to deal with some of these folks. Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   54 Comments      

* If you're Dick Lockhart's friend, please get in touch with him ASAP
* Reader comments closed for the holiday weekend
* *** UPDATED x2 - "Agreed to step down" *** Pritzker withdraws nomination of Cesar Santoy to Tollway board
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Afternoon update
* Question of the day
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* *** UPDATED x2 *** Sanguinetti bows out of congressional race
* Open Letter: The University Of Illinois Must Protect First Amendment Rights
* *** UPDATED x2 - Sandoval submitted chairmanship resignation letter *** Sandoval's chairmanship appears to have been yanked
* *** UPDATED x19 *** Senate Democrats release unredacted Sandoval search warrant
* Take it easy
* Forbes: Gov. Pritzker is 6th wealthiest Illinoisan
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