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CHICAGO (CBS) – On the day former Gov. Rod Blagojevich began serving his prison sentence, CBS 2 has learned he and his father-in-law, Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) have reconciled, nearly seven years after a public and nasty falling-out.
Mell told CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson that he initiated contact with his son-in-law and that he and Blagojevich have talked on the phone. Mell wouldn’t reveal what was said, but he has been worried about his daughter, Patti, and the Blagojevich children, Amy and Annie, as their father begins his 14-year prison sentence.
Since the recent death of his wife, Mell has wanted to reconnect with Patti and his grandchildren and help them through their problems. Mell wants to be involved in their lives again, after their relationship was strained by his falling-out with the former governor.
Mell was once Blagojevich’s most important political mentor, helping engineer his successful run for governor in 2002. But in 2005, the two began a public feud when Blagojevich ordered the shutdown of a landfill owned by a distant cousin of Patti, over environmental issues. Mell had served as an advisor to that cousin.
Later, Mell accused Blagojevich fundraiser Chris Kelly of trading appointments to state boards and commissions for campaign cash. He later retracted that claim after Kelly threatened to sue.
Mell and Blagojevich have been estranged ever since, but now apparently have reconciled.