Oh, what could have been.
During former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial yesterday, his former chief of staff testified that in 2003, Blago’s closest advisers had their eyes set on higher office for Blago — the highest office, in fact — thinking a presidential run for the gov might be possible in 2008.
The former COS, Lon Monk, said that two members of Blago’s inner circle, Tony Rezko and Chris Kelly, wanted to make sure the new governor wasn’t worried about his finances.
“They didn’t want Rod and Patti to really be worried about finances, because they didn’t want finances to be the reason why he may not run for re-election or run for higher office,” Monk said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Which office?
“At one point, president of the United States,” he said.
We already knew that Blago envisioned himself in the Oval Office. The criminal complaint against him alleged that the governor toyed with appointing himself to Barack Obama’s Senate seat, in part to position himself for a presidential run in 2016.
But apparently his closest advisers — the ones who allegedly helped Blago come up with ways to make money on state deals — were eyeing the possibility years earlier.
Blago is the last of the group still standing: Monk has pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2009 and faces two years in prison, Rezko was convicted of corruption charges in 2008 and Kelly committed suicide in September 2009.
Blago’s trial continues today, and Monk will continue to testify. Yesterday, he also told the court that $500,000, an alleged kickback from Bear Stearns, was funneled into a secret account, to be divided into four parts after Blago left office. Monk said he hasn’t seen a dime of the money and doesn’t know what happened to it.