Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who gained national attention in 2008 for allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president, is facing 20 corruption counts alleging wire fraud, extortion, bribery and conspiracy. After a federal jury deadlocked on all but one count last summer, Blagojevich is back in court.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. found himself entangled in Blagojevich’s legal troubles when it was alleged that he offered the then-governor monetary compensation in exchange for the Senate seat. It was no secret that the Illinois Democrat wanted the seat, but he flatly denied ever making such an offer when he was called to the witness stand this week. In addition, Jackson said that he never authorized anyone else to offer him money.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Jackson also said that Blagojevich did not appoint his wife, Alderman Sandi Jackson, to an Illinois Lottery position because he refused to make a $25,000 campaign contribution to Blagojevich in 2003.
When he saw him several months later, Jackson testified, “there was a chill in the air. I could see in his face he wasn’t going to be able to do anything for Sandi.” Jackson said that Blagojevich said he was sorry the lottery appointment didn’t work out and “in classic Elvis Presley fashion, he snapped his fingers and said, “You should have given me that $25,000.”
That’s when his testimony really got weird. According to the Sun Times, “Jackson put on his best ‘thank you very much’ Elvis rendition, repeatedly snapping his fingers” as he looked over at Blagojevich, to the great amusement of the courtroom gallery and jurors.
Jackson may have been looking for a little payback however he can get it. His brand has been damaged in the past few years, first by the allegations that he tried to buy the vacant Senate seat and more recently the news of an affair with a restaurant hostess in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: REUTERS/Mitch Dumke /Landov)