Blagojevich responded to Monday's Sun-Times story about the contributions from a former state employee who pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges in April without any definitive statement:
"I learned about that today ... I was told about that. We're going to look into that. [...] I didn't pay attention. . . . We're going to work through the process and sort it out."
The governor also ripped House Speaker Michael Madigan for his connection to indicted fundraiser Tony Rezko:
Tony Rezko has contributed money to a lot of people, including speaker Madigan, who has not returned the money
Madigan fired back at his chief adversary:
I would think what motivates him not to give the money back is that he probably needs the money to pay his criminal defense costs. That's what drives him.
As the State Legislature reconvenes this week in an attempt to pass ethics legislation, the Chicago Sun-Times dealt a blow to Gov. Blagojevich's ability to lead the charge:
The governor has kept $65,000 in campaign contributions from one of his administration's former top employees, Ali D. Ata, even though Ata pleaded guilty to felony charges earlier this year.
After cutting a deal with federal prosecutors in April, Ata testified against former top Blagojevich adviser and fund-raiser Tony Rezko, who was convicted in June of wide-ranging corruption involving state deals.
After a Sun-Times reporter asked about the Ata contributions, Blagojevich campaign spokesman Doug Scofield said Sunday he was not aware of Ata's money being dumped.
Blagojevich's keeping the Ata money has given ammunition to his critics, even as the governor is calling legislators back to Springfield today to consider his ethics proposal. "This is a hypocritical move by him, especially at a time when he refuses to give back the ill-gotten gains of a felon," said state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), one of Blagojevich's harshest critics.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more