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Illinois Senators Hear FBI Tapes of Blagojevich

Raw audio recorded of a series of phone calls between Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his brother and chief fundraiser Rob Blagojevich, former chief of staff and lobbyist Lon Monk, and Chicago race-track operator John Johnston about contributions to the governor's campaign. Audio courtesy Illinois General Assembly

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By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Jan. 27 -- When Gov. Rod Blagojevich's voice emerged from secretly recorded FBI tapes for the first time Tuesday, the alleged topic of discussion was a $100,000 bribe from a racetrack operator.

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The governor was in a hurry to see the money dropped into his campaign treasury by the end of last year, before new ethics rules took effect, impeachment prosecutor David Ellis told the Illinois state senators who will decide whether to oust Blagojevich for abuse of power.

One of the four conversations was with Blagojevich's brother, who reported about a talk with the racetrack operator.

"He said: 'You know, I'm good for it. I got to just decide what, what accounts to get it out of,' " Robert Blagojevich says.

"Right," Rod Blagojevich replies. "Before the end of the year, though, right?"

"Yeah, yeah, there was no waffling there," Robert says.

After more back-and-forth, the governor repeats, "But clearly before the end of the year, right?"

"Yeah, yeah," his brother replies.

Blagojevich was seeking the money in return for signing legislation that benefited the racing industry, said Ellis and federal prosecutors, who contend that the two-term Democratic governor repeatedly tried to shake down people seeking state business.

As the second day of the impeachment trial focused on Blagojevich's own words, the governor continued to boycott the proceedings, dismissing them as a "political witch hunt."

Instead of challenging the evidence, he has spent two days in New York, where he has granted more than a dozen television interviews assailing the fairness of the trial without explaining his actions.

Blagojevich contends that all the tapes captured by FBI telephone wiretaps and microphones hidden in his Chicago campaign office should be introduced. He said they would provide "context" for actions that prosecutors say included an effort to sell President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

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