Blagojevich appeal update August 19, 2014, US court of appeals seventh circuit decision, Empress Casino Joliet Corp v John Johnston et al, Quid pro quo between racetracks and Governor Blagojevich
“Why wasn’t Rod Blagojevich, Governor of IL, prosecuted before Tony Rezko, a businessman?”…Citizen Wells
“Why was Tony Rezko’s sentencing delayed?”…Citizen Wells
“I believe I’m more pristine on Rezko than him.”…Rod Blagojevich
We are still awaiting a decision from the US Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on the Blagojevich appeal.
Yesterday the court of appeals presented their decision on Empress Casino Joliet Corp v John Johnston, et al.
Some of the most damning wording for Blagojevich is the following:
“The summary judgment record contains considerable evidence that, if credited, would support the allegation of a quid pro quo between the Racetracks and Governor Blagojevich. When Blagojevich did not immediately sign the ’08 Act into law, Racetracks executive Johnston stated to a colleague in an email: “We are going to have to put a stronger bit in his mouth!?!” Johnston complained to Blagojevich’s chief of staff Monk that the delays in signing the bill were costing Johnston $9,000 per day. A factfinder could conclude that Blagojevich was talking about Johnston’s commitment to pay $100,000 when he informed Monk that he would “like some separation between that and signing the bill.” After the FBI recorded Monk and Blagojevich scheming about getting Johnston to pay, Monk met with Johnston and, according to Monk, delivered the message that the bill would not be signed until he paid.”
From Chicago Law Bulletin August 18, 2014.
“Reviving a lawsuit accusing racetrack owners of offering a bribe to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a federal appeals court has addressed when political horse-trading crosses the line “from the merely unseemly to the unlawful.”
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not rule on the merits of the claim that Blagojevich in 2008 signed legislation favored by the racetrack industry in return for the promise of a $100,000 campaign contribution.
But the court ruled there is enough evidence — if true — to support a finding of a quid pro quo exchange between Blagojevich and the industry.
And assuming such an exchange took place, the court continued, it directly harmed four riverboat casinos in northern Illinois by leading to the implementation of the Horse Racing Act.”
“The casinos do not allege that members of the Illinois General Assembly were offered or took any bribes to pass the bill, the panel wrote.
And deeming officials’ support of legislation to be illegal merely because campaign contributions were solicited and received about the time the legislation was enacted, the panel wrote, would leave the officials open to prosecution for conduct long thought legal.
Such an action, the panel continued, quoting McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991), also would lead to prosecutions for conduct “that in a very real sense is unavoidable so long as election campaigns are financed by private contributions or expenditures, as they have been from the beginning of the nation.”
It’s a different story, the panel wrote, when it comes to the 2008 renewal legislation.
Evidence that Blagojevich signed the bill in exchange for the promise of a $100,000 contribution included the criminal trial testimony of Blagojevich’s former chief of staff, Alonzo Monk, and Johnston’s admission that he offered the bribe, the panel wrote.
Johnston received immunity from prosecution, and Monk pleaded guilty to corruption charges.”
This transaction is the only time I recall the appeals court judges stating that Blagojevich was clearly involved in a quid pro quo activity. During the initial oral arguments phase and in the lastest decision they otherwise question whether or not he was involved in traditional political activities.
This fact coupled with the earlier irregularities in the Blagojevich trials and subsequent delays in producing the transcripts leads me to believe that Blagojevich will get a reduced sentence.