“Former UT Student, Ill. Gov. Removed from Office”

The impeachment trial of Illinois Governor and former University of Tampa student Rod Blagojevich began this week, as recorded phone calls were played for the senate hearing. Blagojevich was indicted on federal charges in December for corruption, including an attempt to sell President Barack Obama’s open Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich attended UT in 1975, but left after two years to attend Northwestern, where he received his degree in history. His brother, Rob, graduated from UT in 1977 and later became a member of the Board of Trustees.

Rob Blagojevich has been implicated in the pay-to-play scandal, and is allegedly Fundraiser A in the 76-page federal indictment. He also gave the May 2008 commencement address, in which he told students that connections were more important than book learning, and gave out his personal phone number.

In late December, the well-connected UT alumnus came under fire in the federal investigation of his younger brother.

Rob Blagojevich hired a defense lawyer that week after it was revealed the FBI taped several of he and his brother’s conversations.

The longtime investigation into broader corruption charges now centers on alleged attempts to ‘sell’ Obama’s open senate seat.

Illinois law dictates that the governor has the obligation to appoint someone to fill a vacated Senate seat.

Blagojevich chaired his brother’s campaign fund, ‘Friends of Rod Blagojevich,’ and in the 76-page indictment, the governor’s mysterious ‘Fundraiser A’ is his brother Rob, according to the Associated Press and a number of Chicago and Nashville news outlets. Rob was paid $62,500 during his time as chair of the campaign, records show.

There were also numerous other charges of corruption against the governor, though no charges have been filed against his brother, Rob, his attorney said.

‘I’ve spoken with him briefly,’ Michael Ettinger told the Nashville Post. ‘I haven’t heard anything where he violated any law.’
UT Connections

Rob Blagojevich and his wife Julie (n’eacute;e Thrailkill) graduated in 1977 and gave between $25,000 and $100,000 to UT’s eight-year, $80 million capital campaign.

The Tennessean newspaper reported that Rob sits on UT’s board of trustees, but UT spokesman Eric Cardenas said he was a trustee from 1998-2004.

He was hand-selected by UT president Ronald L. Vaughn to give the keynote speech at last spring’s commencement.

Typically, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations makes a list of prominent alumni, and Vaughn then picks the speaker, Cardenas said.

Blagojevich’s freshmen year was fruitful in many ways, he told the audience.

‘My years here were among the happiest and most formative of my life, to include meeting my wife and best friend Julie, in Western Civ. class freshman year,’ Blagojevich said. ‘Plant Hall and the campus will always hold fond memories for both of us.’

He stressed the need to network and encouraged the graduates to connect with professors and alumni, even offering his office phone number to any graduate who needed job-seeking advice or connections.

The speaker was previously the president of Invest Financial Corporation, a Tampa-area investment house.

He recently ended a long run as a senior executive of First American Trust Co., in Nashville.

The 76-page indictment has 33 references to a ‘Fundraiser A,’ who played an integral role in the governor’s attempts to raise money and build political connections.

The governor is accused of attempting to get a $50,000 campaign contribution from Patrick Magoon, the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and in return Blagojevich would steer $8 million in state funds to the hospital.

He reportedly later tried to rescind the commitment of funds when the CEO backed out of his campaign contribution.

If Rob Blagojevich is indeed ‘Fundraiser A’ he was involved in this negotiation, according to the federal affidavit.

‘I’ve left three messages there (with the CEO), so I’m gonna quit calling,’ he reportedly said, after not hearing from the hospital executive. ‘I feel stupid now.’

The governor even knew about the investigation and later warned Rob to be careful when meeting with lobbyists.

‘Yeah, now be real careful there,’ he said before a meeting about contributions from a highway contractor. ‘I mean, the FBI went to see [Lobbyist 2]. You understand?’

Later, the affidavit details a conversation between the governor and the UT grad about a $60,000 contribution from an engineering firm that had received $10 million during each fiscal year between 2004 and 2008.

The governor was also supporting a bill that would open up billions of dollars for infrastructure rebuilding that would benefit the engineering firm.

The Allegations

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