- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Tuesday blamed federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the suicide of his former fundraiser and friend Christopher Kelly and likened the U.S. attorney’s tactics to those used by a Soviet spy service.

“His allegations are false, flat out false, and his tactics, his tactics are very, very much open to question,” Mr. Blagojevich told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” program. “Somebody now has taken his life because of the pressure he felt to lie about me.”

Mr. Fitzgerald has accused the governor of engaging in a “political corruption crime spree” and had him arrested last year in order, he said, to stop him from selling President Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Mr. Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office by the Illinois legislature in January, but has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings.

A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald declined comment on Mr. Blagojevich’s comment.

Authorities on Tuesday officially declared that Kelly, 51, committed suicide. They also said that after pleading guilty to fraud charges and being asked to testify against Mr. Blagojevich, Kelly tried to commit suicide Sept. 8. Kelly told his girlfriend after that earlier suicide attempt that he would get help for the depression haunting him, police said.

Mr. Blagojevich has spent the last two weeks pitching his new book detailing his side of the story in the political scandal that ultimately cost him his job as governor.

The former governor also said he thought the government was clamping down on Antonin “Tony” Rezko, a prominent Democratic fundraiser convicted of fraud and money laundering in June 2008, with KGB-like tactics in order to get him to reveal information.

“Rezko wrote a letter to a federal judge saying he was being pressured to lie about me and Barack Obama,” Mr. Blagojevich said. “In the letter, he said there was no wrongdoing with either me or President Barack Obama.”

Now that Rezko is in prison, Mr. Blagojevich said he feared that law enforcement has too much ability to pressure him and likened their tactics to those of the KGB.

“He’s been squeezed, and as a result of sitting in a jail cell for 23 out of 24 hours a day he’s now apparently changing his story about me,” Mr. Blagojevich said. “So I would suggest that people take a look at the tactics.”

“This is not what America is supposed to be,” he added. “I write that in my book. Where is the check and balance on this? My dad fled communism because he wanted to live in a free country. Those are the tactics of the KGB. That is not what our Founding Fathers envisioned. I’m fighting not just for me and my family and my little girls and the truth, I’m also fighting for our country and the principles of our country and the principles of our country where the government can so oppressively go after you and use all these resources and terrorize people. That is not how it is supposed to be.”

The purported retailing of Mr. Obama’s vacated Senate seat is set to be taken up in federal court June 3.

Mr. Blagojevich repeated his assertion that Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel wanted him to maintain a “placeholder” in Congress should he leave the administration and return to the House.

Mr. Blagojevich also said that he wanted Mr. Emanuel to act as the point man in crafting a deal that would have put Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in the Senate, in exchange for the support of her father (Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan) on key spending proposals.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel declined to comment.

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