Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich pleaded not guilty this morning to 16 felony charges of criminal corruption, including racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal agents. His brother, Robert, also pleaded not guilty to related charges. (Three others charged in the case are set to be arraigned Thursday.)
I haven’t seen pictures of the media scrum outside the courtroom, but by all accounts I’ve read, reporters and photographers swarmed the ex-governor like a plaque of locusts, pushing and shoving each other like baseball fans fighting over a notable home run ball. The media circus scene led to the following Blagojevich quote, as reported by the Chicago Tribune:
One cameraman used an expletive as he was shoved, then apologized to Blagojevich for his language.
“It’s alright, man. I heard it before,” Blagojevich said. “Listen to some of those tapes.”
Then there is this juicy nugget from the Chicago Sun-Times:
Rod Blagojevich’s lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, asked for a quick return to court so he can seek expanded travel privileges. Blagojevich, 52, wants to be allowed to go to Costa Rica to film a reality TV show there but needs the judge’s permission.
I’m not surprised that Blagojevich wants to be on a reality TV show, but why is it being filmed in Costa Rica? What exactly will he be doing on the show — fleeing the country to avoid prosecution? Maybe he will hang out with film director Roman Polanski and complain about the U.S. judicial system. Or maybe Blago will get his hair braided and sing Bob Marley songs. (Yes, I know Marley was from Jamaica, not Costa Rica — but the visual still works, doesn’t it, mon?)
In other Blagogate news, the Sun-Times reported Monday that two members of Chicago’s Indian community told Robert Blagojevich (who headed the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund for his brother) that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. would raise up to $5 million in campaign cash for the former governor if he was appointed to President Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. It is unclear whether Jackson played a role in authorizing the alleged offer.
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My wife and I have tickets to see the Second City spoof “Rod Blagojevich Superstar,” which parodies the ongoing Blagogate saga. Make sure to check back here after Saturday to read my take on the play.