Blagojevich brother: Don't play the tapes
Ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich's businessman brother asked a federal court Tuesday to bar prosecutors from playing FBI wiretap tapes at their corruption trial, the same tapes the impeached governor says he wants everyone to hear.
Rod Blagojevich has said he wants all the tapes played at his racketeering and fraud trial that is due to get under way June 3 in U.S. District Court.
Brother Robert Blagojevich's defense attorney, Michael D. Ettinger, said in his request to the court that federal investigators received permission to tap the governor's telephones, saying there was evidence of a quid pro quo during which favors were traded for campaign contributions.
But he said the conversations the FBI captured on the tapes merely show Robert Blagojevich was asking for campaign money, but not an exchange for official favors.
"Evidence of Robert Blagojevich soliciting campaign contributions on behalf of his brother, without proof of an explicit quid pro quo is not remotely criminal but, rather exemplifies the American political process," the motion filed with Judge James B. Zagel said.
Rod Blagojevich is charged with scheming to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former Senate seat and using the powers of the governor's office to raise campaign funds illegally. His brother is charged with helping him as chairman of his campaign fund.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Rod Blagojevich defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky was asked Tuesday night if Ettinger's motion represented a clash between the two brothers.
"I would say it's an inconsistent position but I wouldn't say a clash," he said. He said he agreed with Ettinger that there was no reasonable basis for authorizing the wiretaps.
But he said Rod Blagojevich "has always said that he's the anti-Nixon ... he wants to play all the tapes and let the public hear what was said and when they hear what was said they will see that he didn't commit a crime."
The court papers filed by Ettinger added a touch of human interest to the case, revealing that former Chicago Cubs Manager Dusty Baker, now manager of the Cincinnati Reds, had been lobbying Blagojevich for state aid to help Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
The document contains material from an FBI report that quotes a confidential source who was a lobbyist for the hospital as saying Blagojevich told him at an Oct. 8, 2008, meeting: "Dusty Baker called me. I'm going to do $8 million for them. I want to get Magoon for fifty."
The confidential source understood Blagojevich to be saying that he was going to provide $8 million in state aid to the hospital and he hoped to get a campaign contribution of $50,000 from Children's Memorial CEO Patrick Magoon, according to the documents.
Zagel will make the decision as to what tapes are played for the jury and which are not.