The most exciting thing to come out of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s impeachment trial Tuesday is tapes of four conversations about horse-racing legislation and an alleged corresponding campaign donation. Though the roughly six minutes of tape lack the colorful language of Blago’s other recorded gems—no cursing about Obama here—the FBI wiretaps do show a governor frantic to beat a year-end deadline before tougher ethics rules about campaign contributions go into effect. Prosecutors say Blagojevich was using his support for the bill to try to squeeze money from contributors. The governor signed the legislation after his arrest last month. Blagojevich, who is boycotting the proceedings in Springfield, has said an airing of the hundreds of hours of covert tapes will prove his innocence.
In a conversation from November 13, Gov. Blagojevich and his brother, Robert, who runs his campaign fund, discuss Robert’s recent chat with their longtime friend Lon Monk, who at the time was representing John Johnston, president of Balmoral Park Race Track.
During the first of two calls dated December 3, Monk and Johnston can be heard setting up a meeting for later that day.
Two hours later, on December 3, Monk tells Blagojevich he is continuing to pressure Johnston about contributing to the governor’s fund. Monk says Johnston offered to donate later, something Monk said was not acceptable.
On December 4, Monk suggests that Blagojevich call Johnston directly to assure him that he plans to sign the bill. “It’s better if you do it just from a pressure point of view,” Monk says.