CHICAGO (CBS) – FBI wiretaps from a 2008 investigation of then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich recorded current Democratic candidate for governor, billionaire J.B. Pritzker, speaking to Blagojevich about a state job appointment.
The Chicago Tribune posted the previously unreleased recordings Wednesday. An association with the now-imprisoned Blagojevich could be politically damaging.
On Wednesday evening, Pritzker appeared before reporters, saying: “There was nothing innapropriate about my conversations with the governor.”
He accused allies of Gov. Bruce Rauner of leaking the recordings in an attempt to distract voters from the fact that “this governor has done nothing for the people of Illinois.”
FBI wiretaps formed the core of the evidence against Blagojevich. The Democrat’s 2011 convictions included attempting to trade appointment to the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president for campaign cash.
Blagojevich brings up the possibility of appointing Pritzker to the Senate. But Pritzker doesn’t express interest. He does sound interested in the Illinois treasurer’s job: “That’s the one I would want.”
“If one listens to the actual calls released in the story there was nothing untoward about JB’s conversations with the Governor,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen.
“Throughout JB’s life he’s had an interest in serving the people of Illinois and that’s exactly what he expressed when discussing a potential opening in the Treasurer’s office.
“In fact, when the Governor brings up whether JB would be interested in being appointed to the Senate, on multiple occasions JB expresses he is not and moves away from the type of conversation that landed Rod Blagojevich in prison.”