Patti Blagojevich rips Rauner campaign for using FBI wiretap of ex-gov in TV ad

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Patti Blagojevich appears Friday on WLFD-Fox 32, denouncing the leak of FBI wiretaps of Rod Blagojevich that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign used in an ad against Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker. | WFLD-Fox 32 screen grab

Patti Blagojevich hit the local television news circuit Friday to slam Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign for using her husband’s FBI-wiretapped phone conversation in a political attack ad against Democratic primary frontrunner J.B. Pritzker.

“There is a federal court order not allowing these tapes to see the light of day,” Patti Blagojevich said in a sit-down interview with WFLD-Fox 32, one of at least four interviews she gave on Friday. “We fought so hard in court to try to get tapes just like this.”

The 60-second Rauner campaign ad, titled “I’d Do it,” began airing Thursday, featuring the wiretapped conversation between Pritzker and disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who tells Pritzker about a scenario in which Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan could become senator, and Pritzker could become the attorney general.

The recording surfaced last spring in a Chicago Tribune report on the 2008 conversation, which was captured by federal investigators who suspected Blagojevich of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by then-President-elect Barack Obama.

“Somebody from the US Attorney’s Office (or one of their former employees) and Rauner’s Campaign should be criminally charged for breaking the still standing court order sealing the tapes,” Patti Blagojevich wrote in a Facebook post. “This is clearly a case of someone from the US Attorney’s office playing partisan politics, while they did everything they could to make sure we could not play the tapes that vindicated Rod.”

Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison said they used the recordings that were included in the Tribune story. A representative for the U.S. attorney’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

“This is a perfectly legal conversation between my husband and J.B. talking about different things that he wanted to accomplish with regards to President Obama’s Senate seat . . . These are all things we wanted heard at trial,” Patti Blagojevich told Fox 32.

Her husband was convicted of soliciting bribes for political appointments and has served five years of his 14-year prison sentence. In December, a group of high-profile Illinois Democrats signed a brief supporting the ex-governor’s petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case.

If the long-shot petition fails, Blagojevich’s only hope for an early release might be his pending commutation petition before President Donald Trump, whom he met on the set of TV’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Blagojevich’s lawyer, Leonard Goodman, is a member of the investor group that recently purchased the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Reader.

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