Here’s a Blagojevich-Obama connection you may not know about unless you’ve been reading the Chicago newspapers for quite some time. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, D, tried to hire Eric Holder (now the U.S. Attorney General) six years ago to give a clean bill of health to a gaming company that prosecutors say had just paid Blagojevich a $40,000 bribe.
Blagojevich wanted to hire Holder to a $300,000 special investigator’s position, so that he would dispel allegations by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan,D, that Emerald Casino was tied to the mafia. Even as Blago tried to whitewash Emerald, the company’s president had just paid off Blagojevich by giving his wife a no-work real estate fee, according to Blagojevich’s federal indictment.
Holder even appeared with Blagojevich at a March 24, 2004 press conference. Nearly five years later, he failed to mention the event in a 47-page questionnaire he submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee five days after Blago’s arrest, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The lucrative job offer was nixed by the Illinois Gaming Board, which found the timing highly suspicious. “The concern was that Holder had a bias to do whatever Blagojevich wanted, which was to give the casino to Rosemont,” board member Jim Wagner, a former FBI agent, said.
Meanwhile, the list of subpoenaed witnesses in Blagojevich’s trial is a political cast of thousands. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., all made the cut.