By COLE LAUTERBACH, Staff Reporter, The Center Square
Newly-freed Rod Blagojevich is speaking out about his interactions with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich took to the Chicago radio airwaves Friday, telling long-time on-air personality Mancow on 890 WLS-AM that Madigan demanded 2.5 percent of his re-election fund or else he would usher through a tax hike.
“I predicted that…it was not only going to be a tax increase but a sixty percent tax increase, I knew exactly what they were trying to do and I was proven right on that,” he said, adding that if federal authorities applied the same standard to others in Springfield that they did to him “they’d all be in jail.”
President Donald Trump commuted the remaining 6 years of Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence for multiple corruption convictions last month. Blagojevich said a $7 million campaign donation just before election day from Pritzker paid his way into the speaker’s good graces.
“$7 million from J.B. to Mike Madigan’s campaign coffers in order to get Madigan to support him for governor and, frankly, to pass his legislative agenda,” he said. “Madigan is basically holding him up for that campaign money similar to what he tried to do with me. He asked me for two-and-a-half percent of my campaign fund the year I was running for re-election and when I politely declined, I predicted rightfully that he was going to block our initiatives and try hard to push a tax increase for political purposes, less than to serve any kind of good purpose.”
Blagojevich, matching the notoriously high-energy WLS host, dove into his own interpretation of how the long-time speaker wields such influence.
“He’s the Wizard of Oz,” he told Mancow. “He’s the kind of guy where if you move that curtain, he ain’t so tough, OK, but he’s a sneaky little guy…He controls all of the apparatus of government. He’s got a bunch of lemmings, state [representatives] who talk a big game when they’re back home and as soon as they get down to Springfield they just forget about all that and they take their marching orders from him because what he does is he gives them committee assignments…virtually every one of those state lawmakers was on a committee. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.”
Blagojevich wouldn’t divulge anything else he knew about Pritzker or others, saying he would save that for an upcoming book he planned to write.
Pritzker’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. Madigan’s spokesman said he didn’t “see anything tied to any facts.”