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|Three Witnesses Testify this Week in Blagojevich Trial
|Three key government witnesses have given testimony about alleged schemes to raise campaign cash in the political corruption trial of ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Horse track owner John Johnston finished up his testimony Monday and talking about legislation that would help the horse racing industry and about a campaign contribution that former Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk wanted from him by the end of the year. Johnston believes Monk was tying the legislation with a campaign contribution.
Johnston spoke briefly with reports outside of the court house as he was leaving. He says he is satisfied with his statements in court.
"You heard my testimony," Johnston said. "It was straightforward and forthright and the jury will decide the governor's fate on my issue." About his testifying, Johnston said "it's a forgettable event."
Bradley Tusk, a one time deputy governor in the Blagojevich administration, testified that Blagojevich asked him to call then Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Chicago) and set up a fundraiser with Emanuel's brother in exchange for state grants for a Chicago school. Emanuel's brother is a Hollywood agent. Tusk said he didn't carry out the order because he thought it was wrong. He testified that while he told Blagojevich's general counsel about the phone call, he didn't report it to any law enforcement agency, something the defense says is proof that Blagojevich wasn't serious about it.
The last witness of the day was John Harris, the last chief of staff under the Blagojevich administration. He was arrested the same day Blagojevich was, and has pled guilty to conspiracy to solicit a bribe. He has a plea deal that could land him behind bars for a maximum of 35 months.
On his first day on the witness stand, Harris testified that Blagojevich was looking to get his wife Patti a job because her real estate business wasn't doing well. Blagojevich wanted to put Patti on the Pollution Control Board, where board members are paid over $100,000 per year. Harris warned that it wouldn't look good and could be embarrassing during Senate hearings to appoint her.
Harris later tried to help Patti break into the securities and bonds business. It wasn't successful and in retaliation, Blagojevich told Harris to cut off business with two firms overseeing some state bonds. Harris says that threat never went anywhere.
Meanwhile, Harris testified that Blagojevich was thinking of teaching one day. Harris says that Blagojevich considered the University of Illinois board an important one and wanted to make sure there were acquaintances there in case he wanted to become an adjunct professor.
Direct examination of Harris is expected to take all week, according to prosecutors.
(Illinois Radio Network)
|06 22 10 by Newsroom
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