CHICAGO (AP) - Rod Blagojevich surely hopes talk is anything but cheap.
Faced with a campaign war chest that’s empty of the $2.7 million it held before his lawyers got paid to defend him on corruption charges, the ousted governor who complained about being broke _ on tape, thanks to the FBI _ when he had a job now must find a way to make money as he prepares for another expensive trial.
And that likely means doing what he did before, when he hit the media circuit and talked to listeners on his own radio show, David Letterman’s viewers on his late-night program and Donald Trump on his reality series _ right up until Trump fired him.
Selig wouldn’t say what those projects might be for the former governor, who prosecutors said will stand trial again after jurors deadlocked on 23 felony counts including allegations that he tried to sell an appointment to President Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Blagojevich was heard on wiretap tapes saying the power to name a senator was “(expletive) golden” and he wasn’t going to give it up “for (expletive) nothing.”
“This is the same charge or a similar charge to what Martha Stewart was convicted of and Martha Stewart has done pretty well for herself,” Selig said of the homemaking diva who went back to being a media star after being convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and, like Blagojevich, making false statements to federal authorities.
Blagojevich may be under pressure to make Martha Stewart-type money if he hopes to show up in court again with the same troop of lawyers.
“They exhausted the funds,” said Michael Dobbins, clerk of the U.S. District Court, whose office distributes the money from Blagojevich’s campaign fund and who said the final check was cut days ago.
That could mean Blagojevich’s attorneys would have to be paid as public defenders through tax dollars _ at a rate of around $100 an hour, said one of his attorneys, Sheldon Sorosky. And that, said Sorosky, may prompt the judge to try to cut the number of people on the legal staff.
Selig said one option for Blagojevich might be a program in which he talks about current issues the way Eliot Spitzer has done since a prostitution scandal forced him to resign as governor of New York.
“He’s done commentary on news programs talking about issues unrelated to his own,” Selig said of Blagojevich. “The camera seems to really like him and I think the public has really enjoyed hearing from him and he would make a terrific host.”
But it took Spitzer two years to re-emerge since his resignation, and his scandals were eclipsed a bit over that time by ethics charges that dogged his successor. Moreover, Blagojevich found it difficult to get much done in Illinois, where he often clashed with lawmakers. And during his trial, former aides testified that he sometimes hid in the bathroom and rarely worked on state business.
That sounds more like it, according to at least one expert.