In their upcoming book on Rod Blagojevich, Chicago Tribune reporters Jeff Coen and John Chase write that the former gov once threatened to fire an aide if he revealed a secret: that Blago had voted for George H.W. Bush. “If you ever repeat this, first I’ll deny it, secondly I’ll wait a little bit, then I’ll fire you,” Rod had told the aide, according to Coen and Chase in Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself Out of the Governor’s Office and into Prison, out this September.
That Blago had voted Republican was no secret when I interviewed him for a profile I wrote in 2003. He spoke openly about his attraction to Republicans and placed no restrictions on my reporting his history of GOP votes. Blago volunteered that he voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 and “think[s]” he voted for George H.W. Bush in 1988. (I surmised at the time that “think[s]” was merely a qualifier—that he had indeed checked the box for Bush I. Blago also told me that he voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996 and Al Gore in 2000.)
The Chicago Tribune report about the new book, which I read with interest late Wednesday, also caught Matt Drudge’s eye, and he posted it atop the Drudge Report: “Book: Blago claimed $25,000 channeled to Obama…” Drudge doesn’t care whom inmate Blago voted for, but, always looking to beat up the Democrats, he was interested in one of the book’s hotter revelations as described by Tribune reporters Steve Mills and Todd Lighty in their story on their colleagues’ book: that Blago is recorded as saying he heard that Tony Rezko, now serving a prison term for financial crimes connected to Blago, secretly handed $25,000 to Obama—then running for the U.S. Senate—perhaps to be used as “walking-around money.” Mills and Lighty quote several sources refusing comment or doubting/denying the claim’s veracity and, in their article, use a quote from the book: “Never was Blagojevich seen as a credible threat to the incoming president.”
Golden is not the only Blago book coming from reporters who covered his downfall. Natasha Korecki, the Sun-Times’ former federal courts reporter—now the paper’s political reporter—has an e-book, Only in Chicago, on the way, also next month, from Evanston’s Agate Publishing.
As for sales potential, both books are missing just one thing: Blago on the loose, engaging in endless self-promotion and self-pity, and, in the process, helping to move copies—even if he didn’t mean to.
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