Governor Rod Blagojevich's alleged efforts to secure campaign payments from harness racing businessman Johnny Johnston in exchange for a signing that directed casino revenue to horse racing could come back to haunt him.
Blagojevich's lawyers were expected to receive secretly recorded conversations of the governor yesterday (January 5), but questions remain over how quickly - or whether - they will become public. In addition to the governor, Johnston, former Blagojevich chief of staff Lon Monk, and Robert Blagojevich are on the recordings.
Johnston's lawyer, Daniel Reinberg, said his client was told he is not a subject or target of the investigation. Johnston runs both the Balmoral Park and Maywood Park horseracing tracks. He hired Monk in 2007 as a lobbyist, Reinberg said. Monk's cell phone was tapped by authorities, the Sun-Times reported last week.
Blagojevich lawyer Ed Genson also said he had an interest in playing all of the recordings for the panel.
Chief U.S. District Judge James Holderman set a Thursday hearing to possibly decide if the recordings can be released before a House impeachment committee.
Defense lawyers have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to object to the feds' proposed edits of the recordings. Prosecutors moved to release four edited phone calls from their case against the governor at the request of the House committee.
Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges he conspired to trade official action for campaign cash and other benefits.
David Ellis, a lawyer representing the House panel, urged Holderman to resolve the issue "with all deliberate speed." He said the tapes also could be useful in a Senate trial.
Duane RANGER (editor)