Blagojevich trial could help Kirk in Senate run

Democrats have Illinois Senate candidate Mark Kirk (R) on the ropes for his mischaracterization of his military service, but it may be a short-lived advantage in the media war.

Jury selection begins Thursday in the corruption trial of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). Corruption is a preeminent concern in Chicagoland and even the preliminary proceedings of the trial will be closely watched. As Kirk tries to move the storyline beyond what Navy awards he did or did not receive, the trial coverage will help remind people about the downfall of the state's former top Democrat.

A recap from the Chicago Tribune:

The sprawling case covers years of investigation of Blagojevich and his closest associates, with whom he allegedly conspired to run Illinois government as a criminal racket from his earliest days in office. Also on trial with Blagojevich will be his brother, Robert, who once ran the governor's campaign fund.



Included in the broad array of charges against Blagojevich are accusations that he schemed to bring in campaign donations in exchange for official acts, including the naming of a replacement for President Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

The list of those he allegedly tried to extort ranges from the leader of a children's hospital to an executive at a horse racing track to the heads of Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune.

The prosecution's case, which grew out of a federal investigation dubbed "Operation Board Games," will feature scores of secret recordings made in late 2008 of Blagojevich on the phone and in his political office.

It also may include testimony from as many as four key Blagojevich insiders, all but one of whom have already been found guilty of charges connected to the investigation.

The government claims Blagojevich's alleged plotting peaked when he tried to shop the Senate seat to the highest bidder when Obama appeared headed for the White House in 2008.

"I've got this thing and it's (expletive) golden," Blagojevich was recorded as saying in December 2008 in perhaps the most memorable of the excerpts made public by prosecutors so far. "And uh. … I'm not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing."