Rod Blagojevich, often referred to by his nickname "Blago" is an American former politician, political commentator, and convicted felon who served as the 40th governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009.
100 Facts About Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich was impeached, removed from office, convicted, and incarcerated for eight years on federal charges of public corruption.
Rod Blagojevich served as an Illinois state representative from 1993 to 1997, and the US representative from Illinois's 5th district from 1997 to 2003.
Rod Blagojevich was elected Illinois governor in 2002, the first Democrat to win the office since 1972.
Rod Blagojevich was impeached, convicted, and removed from office in 2009 by the Illinois General Assembly.
Rod Blagojevich was barred by the Illinois Senate from holding public office within the state ever again.
In May 2020, Blagojevich launched a politics-themed podcast called "The Lightning Rod" on WLS-AM 890.
Rod Blagojevich was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second of two sons of Serbian immigrants from Yugoslavia.
Rod Blagojevich's father, Rade B Blagojevich, was an immigrant steel plant laborer from a village near Kragujevac, Serbia.
Rod Blagojevich's mother, Mila, was a Bosnian Serb whose family was originally from Gacko, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Rod Blagojevich spent much of his childhood working odd jobs to help the family pay its bills.
Rod Blagojevich was a shoeshiner and pizza delivery boy before working at a meat packing plant.
Rod Blagojevich graduated from Chicago's Foreman High School after transferring from Lane Technical High School.
Rod Blagojevich played basketball in high school, and participated in two fights after training as a Golden Gloves boxer.
Rod Blagojevich earned his JD from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 1983.
Rod Blagojevich voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and voted for his re-election in 1984.
Rod Blagojevich had an amateur boxing career which spanned 13 months and included Golden Gloves competition.
Rod Blagojevich trained under Jerry Marzillo in Chicago's Park District, and he fought some of his matches at the St Andrews Gym in Chicago's Northside.
In 1992, with the backing of his influential father-in-law, Rod Blagojevich unseated 14-year incumbent Myron Kulas in the Democratic primary for the 33rd state house district, in the Illinois House of Representatives, which includes part of Chicago's North Side.
Rod Blagojevich drew on his experiences as a prosecutor to draft bills that he argued would strengthen the state's judicial system and reduce crime.
In 1996, Rod Blagojevich did not seek reelection to the statehouse but instead ran for, based on the North Side.
Rod Blagojevich soundly defeated Flanagan by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, with support from his father-in-law.
On October 10,2002, Blagojevich was one of 81 House Democrats, and one of only two from Illinois, who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.
Rod Blagojevich won a close primary campaign against former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris and Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas, who ran well in the suburban collar counties of Chicago.
Rod Blagojevich's campaign was helped by his well-connected father-in-law, Chicago alderman Richard Mell.
Ethics scandals had plagued the previous administration of Republican George Ryan, and Rod Blagojevich's campaign focused on the theme of "ending business as usual" in state government.
Polls prior to the election found that many Illinois voters were confused about the names of George Ryan and Jim Ryan, a fact which Rod Blagojevich used to his advantage.
From 2005 to 2006, Rod Blagojevich served as federal liaison for the Democratic Governors Association.
In 2005, Rod Blagojevich served as a Chair of the Midwestern Governors Association.
Rod Blagojevich formally began his 2006 reelection campaign for Governor of Illinois on February 19,2006.
Rod Blagojevich convinced Democratic state senator James Meeks not to launch a third-party campaign by promising to attempt to lease out the state lottery to provide education funding.
Rod Blagojevich was endorsed by many Democratic leaders, including then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who endorsed the governor in early 2005 and spoke on his behalf at the August 2006 Illinois State Fair.
Rod Blagojevich was endorsed by the state's Sierra Club, the only Illinois governor ever endorsed by the organization.
Rod Blagojevich attempted to tie Topinka to former Republican governor George Ryan's corruption.
Rod Blagojevich originally campaigned against pork barrel spending, but eventually used it himself to gain more votes for bills.
When campaigning for re-election in 2006, Rod Blagojevich said that if his ethics law had existed when former governor George Ryan had been in office, Ryan's corruption might not have occurred.
Rod Blagojevich oversaw record increases in funding for education every year without raising general sales or income taxes.
Rod Blagojevich was criticized by Republicans and many moderate Democrats for using funds from the state pension system in order to fund other spending.
On January 10,2006, Rod Blagojevich announced a proposal for a new $3 billion spending plan for Illinois roads, mass transit, and schools, to be paid for by increased tax revenue and new gambling proposals.
In March 2008, Rod Blagojevich announced a bipartisan coalition, chaired by former US Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and Former US Congressman Glenn Poshard, to develop a capital construction plan that could pass the Illinois General Assembly.
Rod Blagojevich called the Illinois General Assembly into special session 36 times while in office, which is half of the total number of special sessions called since 1970.
The sessions were blamed for disrupting lawmakers' time off, while Rod Blagojevich himself did not attend the sessions.
Rod Blagojevich disagreed with many state Democrats while in office, with House and Senate Republican leaders Frank Watson and Tom Cross often refereeing among the Democrats.
Quinn and Rod Blagojevich publicly disagreed over Rod Blagojevich's proposed Gross Receipts Tax to increase revenue for schools and other projects within Illinois.
Rod Blagojevich was often at odds with members of both parties in the state legislature.
Democratic legislator Jack Franks said that the reason Rod Blagojevich had problems passing laws with the cooperation of the General Assembly is that he did not spend enough time with the legislature.
Rod Blagojevich did not endorse Obama in the 2004 United States Senate race, and Obama did not invite Rod Blagojevich to speak at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, as he did Lisa Madigan, Hynes, and Giannoulias.
Rod Blagojevich has had a "friendly rapport" with the man who took over his congressional seat, Rahm Emanuel.
Rod Blagojevich was interviewed by Jason Jones, who repeatedly pretended to be unable to pronounce Rod Blagojevich's name and simply called him "Governor Smith".
Rod Blagojevich made another appearance on The Daily Show on August 23,2010, after his removal from office.
Stewart focused on how Rod Blagojevich had expressed a great desire to tell his side in court, but then did not.
Rod Blagojevich was criticized for using what his opponents called "gimmicks" to balance the state budget.
Rod Blagojevich once told a gathering of black ministers on Chicago's South Side that he was "on the side of our Lord" with his budget proposals.
Rod Blagojevich was criticized for his handling of the 2007 state budget.
Rod Blagojevich issued an executive order during 2004 requiring pharmacists in the state to dispense "morning-after" birth control, even if they object on moral or religious grounds.
Rod Blagojevich proposed to pay for the plan with the largest tax increase in Illinois history.
Rod Blagojevich proposed a gross receipts tax on businesses, a $7.6 billion tax increase, with proceeds earmarked to provide universal healthcare in Illinois, increase education spending by $1.5 billion, fund a $25 billion capital construction plan, and reduce the State's $40 billion pension debt.
When it became apparent that the resolution would be defeated, Rod Blagojevich announced at the last minute that supporters should vote against it, although the vote was intended to be a test vote to gauge whether the measure had any support.
Rod Blagojevich successfully proposed a new tax on businesses that do not provide health insurance to their employees.
Rod Blagojevich's decision has been called unconstitutional by two courts, which nullified the plan.
One state lawmaker, Republican Ron Stephens, suggested that Rod Blagojevich should pay the difference out of his own personal account.
Rod Blagojevich threatened to stop the state's dealings with Bank of America Corp.
Rod Blagojevich said the biggest US retail bank would not get any more state business unless it restored credit to Republic Windows and Doors, whose workers were staging a sit-in.
Rod Blagojevich has been described as a "staunch" supporter of gun control.
Rod Blagojevich vetoed three gun bills in 2005, which would have:.
In early 2009, Rod Blagojevich reported being so impressed by Oprah Winfrey's influence on the election of Barack Obama that he considered offering Obama's vacant Senate seat to Winfrey.
Rod Blagojevich summarized his reasons for considering Winfrey on various talk shows:.
Rod Blagojevich is a larger-than-life figure in America and around the world.
Rod Blagojevich has a huge bully pulpit and tremendous support across America.
Rod Blagojevich has a voice larger than all 100 senators combined.
Rod Blagojevich was famed for his flamboyant dress style, such as his taste for Charvet ties.
Rod Blagojevich insisted his aides always carry a hairbrush for him.
Rod Blagojevich referred to it as "the football", alluding to the term nuclear football, which represents the bomb launch codes never to be out of reach of the president.
On January 27,2009, Rod Blagojevich began a media campaign planned by publicist Glenn Selig.
Rod Blagojevich's impeachment trial and removal from office did not affect his federal indictment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, since impeachment is a political as opposed to a criminal sanction in addition to being a punishment imposed at the state level.
Rod Blagojevich has accused his successor, Pat Quinn, of using state funds excessively for personal leisure.
Rod Blagojevich attempted to make a deal to star in NBC's 2009 summer reality show I'm a Celebrity.
Rod Blagojevich's wife took his place on the show, which began airing June 1,2009.
Rod Blagojevich told an interviewer he found it difficult to watch his wife eat a dead tarantula on the broadcast, but remarked that her willingness to participate in the show was "an act of love" because she was earning funds to alleviate their adverse financial position.
Rod Blagojevich performed in order to support the charity Gilda's Club Chicago, which offers support for people living with cancer.
On July 19,2009, Rod Blagojevich began hosting a two-hour weekly radio talk show on 890 WLS, which aired mid-day Sundays.
Rod Blagojevich had previously been a guest host of the "Don Wade and Roma Morning Show" on WLS in March 2009.
On June 2,2010, WLS placed Rod Blagojevich's radio show on hiatus while his corruption trial was ongoing.
Rod Blagojevich appeared on season 9 of The Celebrity Apprentice in Spring 2010, asserting that he has the "skill and know-how to get things accomplished" on the series.
Rod Blagojevich made an appearance at the Wizard World Chicago comic convention in August 2010, conversing with and taking pictures with attendees.
Rod Blagojevich charged $50 for an autograph and $80 for a photo.
Rod Blagojevich had a humorous televised meeting with Adam West; Blagojevich remarked that he considered The Joker to be the best Batman foil.
Comic fandom website Bleeding Cool reported that Rod Blagojevich had met with a mostly positive reception, while Time Out Chicago described it as mixed.
Rod Blagojevich was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2009.
Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on all charges pertaining to the Senate seat, as well as extortion relating to state funds being directed towards a children's hospital and race track.
Rod Blagojevich reported to prison on March 15,2012, at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood, Colorado.
Rod Blagojevich was the fourth Illinois governor to serve time in federal prison, after Otto Kerner Jr.
Rod Blagojevich appealed his conviction, claiming judicial bias and a tainted jury pool.
Rod Blagojevich has long contended that there was critical evidence the jury never heard, including witness testimony and recorded phone calls that Judge Zagel did not allow to be played during the trial.
In July 2013, Rod Blagojevich filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago challenging the corruption conviction and the length of his prison term.
Rod Blagojevich's attorneys appealed to the 7th Circuit, but failed; then filed another appeal with the US Supreme Court on November 3,2017.
Meanwhile, unrepentant, Rod Blagojevich continued to fight his conviction and sentence in the media.
Rod Blagojevich filed a petition officially asking President Trump for commutation of sentence on June 5,2018.
Rod Blagojevich was released from prison that day, and flew home to Chicago that night.
In May 2020, Blagojevich launched a politics-themed podcast titled "The Lightning Rod" on WLS-AM 890.