- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2010

ILLINOIS

Blagojevich, wife spent lavishly on clothes

CHICAGO | Rod and Patti Blagojevich were awash in more than $200,000 in consumer debt when the former Illinois governor was arrested, following a lavish, six-year shopping spree on custom-tailored suits and other luxury clothing, a federal agent testified Thursday.

Mr. Blagojevich and his wife spent more than $400,000 on clothes, mainly for themselves and not their children, from 2002 through December 2008 when he was arrested, Internal Revenue Service agent Shari Schindler said at Mr. Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial.

“Sometimes they used credit cards to pay for other credit cards,” Miss Schindler said.

Prosecutors were plainly suggesting that the staggering mound of debt facing the impeached Illinois governor and his wife could explain his alleged plan to get a Cabinet post or high-paying labor union or foundation job in exchange for filling the U.S. Senate seat Barack Obama was leaving to become president.

They spotlighted Mr. Blagojevich’s urgent concern about money, later playing a tape of an angry, profanity-laced tantrum in which the governor tells advisers, “We’re struggling here.”

“I’m stuck,” Mr. Blagojevich says, his voice rising. “The whole world is passing me by, and I’m stuck in the job of governor.” Somebody asks who is passing him by.

“Everybody!” he shouts. “Everybody!”

“I’ve got to figure out a way to take some financial stress off my family,” he says, sounding increasingly frantic. He says he thinks he is letting his family down. “I can’t afford college for my daughter.”

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Merwin named 17th U.S. poet laureate

A writer who stopped using punctuation in the 1960s and spent much of the past 30 years secluded in Hawaii will become the nation’s next chief poet.

The Library of Congress announced Thursday that William S. Merwin will become the 17th U.S. poet laureate this fall. He succeeds Kay Ryan, who has held the post since 2008.

The 82-year-old Mr. Merwin is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He won in 2009 for “The Shadow of Sirius” and in 1971. He studied poetry at Princeton University and has written more than 30 books.

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