CHICAGO (CBS) — The saga of Rod Blagojevich involved no shortage of the bizarre and the tawdry, but a book about the deposed and imprisoned governor set for release next month may top it all yet again.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, the authors of book, titled Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor’s Office and into Prison, say it is based in part on undercover recordings of the ex-governor that were not disclosed at trial.
The book, by Chicago Tribune reporters Jeff Coen and John Chase, suggests that Blagojevich told his chief of staff that he had heard convicted influence peddler Antoin “Tony” Rezko had secretly given then-future president Barack Obama $25,000 in cash – possibly to help in his 2004 run for the U.S. Senate.
Speaking to the Tribune, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt dismissed the claim as “preposterous” and “false,” and an attorney for Rezko – who is now serving a 10 1/2-year prison sentence – called the claim “simply fabrication and not true,” the Tribune reported.
The Tribune reports the book also depicts Blagojevich as being envious of Obama’s political success, when the governor had thought Obama had bigger problems tied with Rezko than he himself did.
Blagojevich was known for having his own presidential aspirations when he was elected governor in 2002.
The book also claims that Blagojevich –who is married with two daughters ages 8 and 15 – talked about naming Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat in 2008 so he could “have a shot” at having sex with her, the Tribune reported.
The book says the Democrat Blagojevich also told a staffer that he voted for Republican George H.W. Bush for president, and threatened to fire the staffer if he told anyone, the Tribune reported.
The Tribune article does not indicate whether Blagojevich voted for the senior Bush in his successful race against Michael Dukakis in 1988, or in his unsuccessful race against Bill Clinton in 1992.
Blagojevich began a 14-year prison sentence on March 15.