Union Official Testifies on Conversations with Blagojevich on Senate Choice
Testimony from a labor union official shows ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich angled for job offers and other help from supporters of President Barack Obama.
The SEIU's Tom Balanoff says in November 2008 he acted as a go-between between Blagojevich and members of Obama's inner circle.
In a secretly taped call played at the trial on Tuesday, Blagojevich talks to Balanoff about Senate candidates, including Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.
Then the governor wonders aloud if Obama donors would give millions to start a health care advocacy group Blagojevich could work for.
BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah and then we can help our new senator, Valerie Jarrett, go out and push that. BALANOFF: So let me...let move this idea and...let me put that flag up and see where it goes.
Balanoff testified Tuesday he never had any intention of looking into Blagojevich's idea.
On cross examination, Balanoff acknowledged Blagojevich never explicitly said he'd appoint Jarrett in exchange for personal benefits or favors.
Balanoff also testified that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias told him in passing, "Maybe (Blagojevich will) appoint me."
When Balanoff told the governor this, he says Blagojevich responded with a expletives aimed at Giannoulias.
Giannoulias' current Senate campaign says his comment to Balanoff about being interested in the seat was made "half jokingly."
Meantime, Balanoff says Blagojevich also dismissed suggestions that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky get the appointment.
He says Blagojevich told him he wanted to pick an African American, so the governor said - quote - "If Jan could show me she had any ancestors who came over on a slave ship, she'd be fine."
A statement from Schakowsky says the comment "demonstrates Blagojevich's cynical attitude toward the African-American community.