Some of Rod Blagojevich’s neighbors, not to mention a Chicago Tribune photographer, took notice Friday when Patti Blagojevich had “Welcome Home” balloons on her porch in the wake of President Donald Trump’s latest remarks about possibly releasing her husband from prison.
Despite the message on the balloons, it remained unclear Friday night if a grant of clemency for the former governor by Trump was any closer to becoming reality, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times. It also was unclear who put the balloons up: CBS2 Chicago reported Patti Blagojevich found them on the porch and didn’t purchase them.
Blagojevich, however, was spotted on her porch Friday evening with the balloons, an image captured by Chris Sweda of the Chicago Tribune.
Patti Blagojevich secures a balloon reading "welcome back" to her porch in Chicago's Ravenswood Manor neighborhood on Friday. No word of Donald Trump commuting the sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich however. pic.twitter.com/9oh0lLCSzQ— Chris Sweda (@chris_sweda) August 10, 2019
The balloons remained on the Blagojevich family porch late Friday night.
Patti Blagojevich hasn’t commented publicly about the latest remarks by Trump, but she’s been her husband’s No. 1 advocate that he’s been treated unfairly.
She talked at length to WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney for a podcast chronicling her husband’s rise and fall, called “Public Official A,” and also reacted to former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke getting a shorter prison sentence than her husband after Van Dyke was convicted of killing Laquan McDonald.
“I am speechless,” Patti Blagojevich tweeted in January after Van Dyke’s 81-month sentence was handed down. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
“A 17 year old is dead and the sentence is less than half of my husbands sentence for discussions with his staff and attorney about political fundraising,” Patti Blagojevich added in her tweet.
Though an appellate court tossed five of Rod Blagojevich’s convictions in 2015, federal prosecutors say he remains convicted “of the same three charged shakedowns” for which he was first sentenced in 2011.
Those include his attempt to sell then-President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, to shake down the CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital for $25,000 in campaign contributions and to hold up a bill to benefit the racetrack industry for $100,000 in campaign contributions. A jury also convicted Blagojevich of lying to the FBI.
After raising the possibility that Blagojevich could be free right away — on Thursday afternoon a commutation seemed hours from coming to fruition — by Thursday night Trump sudddenly decided to put on the brakes.
Trump said in a tweet, “White House staff” is still reviewing the former governor’s case.
Contributing: Lynn Sweet, Jon Seidel