CHICAGO, April 14 (UPI) -- A judge Wednesday unsealed documents allegedly shedding light on indicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's efforts to profit from his position of power.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel granted the request sought by Sun Times Media LLC, the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune, writing that disclosure of the material "a month and a half before the beginning of trial does not come close to presenting a significant threat that a fair jury cannot be found."
Blagojevich's lawyers had urged blacking out portions of the materials containing excerpts of certain recorded conversations, saying they would give the public an incorrect impression of the evidence and taint the jury pool.
"The experience of the courts in cases which attract significant news coverage has shown that pretrial news reporting is an overstated menace to fair jury trials," Zagel wrote. "The events which are the subject of this case are not those which make a lasting impression on the mind of readers. The words in papers and magazines and the words read by an anchor on radio or television will not be retained in significant detail by members of the public."
Blagojevich, 53, a Democrat, was impeached and removed from office in January 2009 and is expected to stand trial this year on corruption charges, including that he sought to profit from naming someone to the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Barack Obama.
The Chicago Tribune reported the newly released court document states Blagojevich told his chief of staff, John Harris, he wanted to parlay the Senate appointment into his own job in Washington.
"Now is the time for me to put my (expletive) children and wife first, for a change," he was quoted as saying. "I'd like to get out, get the (expletive) outta here. The objective is to, to get a good gig over there."
The Chicago Sun-Times reported the document reveals authorities suspect convicted businessman Tony Rezko secretly funneled tens of thousands of dollars to the former governor and his wife for home renovations. The Blagojeviches have said they financed the work themselves.
The document states in 2008 Blagojevich also tested the waters to see if Obama "could do 'something big' in the private sector'' for him in exchange for giving the seat to Valerie Jarrett, an Obama friend who withdrew from contention and now works in the Obama administration.
The former governor also allegedly can be heard on tape saying U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., "wants it badly and desperately and he's the only one who's willing to, like, offer stuff."
Authorities allege an emissary of Jackson approached Blagojevich with what the former governor believed to be a $1.5 million offer for the seat.