Patti Blagojevich is not smiling over a Chicago radio station's cartoonish billboards poking fun at her husband, ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
In a lawsuit recently filed in Cook County Court, Patti Blagojevich says Merlin-owned WIQI-FM/101.1 “used advertising (featuring her husband's photo) specifically on billboards to attract attention, increase listeners and increase revenues,” reports Crain's Chicago Business.
For allegedly profiting from her husband's notoriety, the lawsuit states Patti Blagojevich is seeking $30,000 in damages, according to WGN.
Last spring, WIQI-FM splashed the ex-governor's face on billboards and transit ads around Chicago with the tag "He never listens," but listener complaints blasting the ads as "insensitive" — coupled with a call from Blago's attorney — forced the station to slap a smiley face over Blagojevich's just a few months later.
(See a photo of the altered billboard.)
Blagojevich's attorney Sheldon Sorosky called the station's initial move a possible violation of Illinois' Right to Publicity Act, which states a person's identity can't be used for commercial purposes without first getting written consent, NBC Chicago reported last June. Merlin Media responded saying it was their First Amendment right to use the ex-governor's image.
Chicagoland Television (CLTV) notes the campaign was a public relations flop for the station, which later dropped the news format the billboards promoted.
Rod Blagojevich is currently serving out a 14-year sentence on a corruption conviction in a Colorado-based federal prison.