News Analysis: Ex-governor's trial exposes dark side of Illinois politics
Saturday, June 19, 2021 12:36 AM

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CHICAGO, Jun. 18, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The ongoing corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has shined a spotlight on the dark side of the state's political life, several politicians and analysts said.

The flamboyant Blagojevich is on trial for conspiring to win political points from businesses and gain favors from donors for campaign contributions, including the sale of President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

But the seat never was for sale, his defense team argues. They argue, instead, that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was to serve as the go-between for the governor and a prospective candidate.

Blagojevich reportedly wanted to appoint Valerie Jarrett, a White House senior advisor who played an important role in the 2008 presidential campaign, to the seat, but it did not come to fruition.

To that end, the defense team tried to call the president as a witness.

But U.S. District Judge James Zagel, however, has ruled thus far that the defense has not demonstrated the necessity for Obama's testimony.

"The office of the presidency has many protections and barriers in place," said Isaac Hayes, a Republican nominee for Illinois 2nd Congressional District, which is currently held by U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Chicago).

Hayes is running against Jackson, whom prosecutors allege offered over 1 million U.S. dollars for Senate seat.

Jackson, scheduled to testify in the trial, has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Hamilton argued two weeks ago in her opening statement in a crowded courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago that jurors would see political corruption at its worst, revealed through government wiretaps.

Blagojevich faces 24 counts of racketeering, extortion and bribery in the trial expected to last up to five months.

Hamilton mapped out an intricate web of financials deals linking Blagojevich's camp to questionable business transactions.

Prosecutors hope to break the back of the subculture of patronage in Illinois and nationwide by bringing Blagojevich to trial, said Len Cavise, a professor at DePaul College of Law and a legal expert who has been closely following the trial.

"Influence peddling has become too important in politics today," Cavise said in an interview with Xinhua.

Illinois has long been known for its history of political misconduct. Former Illinois Republican Gov. George Ryan was convicted of federal corruption charges in 2006. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley?s father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, perfected what is known as the Chicago Democratic Machine politics, a broad system of patronage that some say is still in existence today.

 

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