10 Things You Didn't Know About Rod Blagojevich

Federal authorities charged Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, with corruption.

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1. Rod Blagojevich was born Dec. 10, 1956, in Chicago.

2. Blagojevich has often spoken about his family's blue-collar background. His father, a Serbian immigrant and former prisoner of war, worked as a machinist, while his mother was a ticket taker for the Chicago Transit Authority.

3. In high school, Blagojevich was a mediocre student, but he had a strong interest in politics. He enjoyed sports: He boxed and played baseball and basketball. He also was a huge fan of Elvis Presley, and remains one today.

4. Blagojevich attended the University of Tampa for two years, then returned to Illinois when he transferred to Northwestern University. He graduated in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in history.

5. Blagojevich went to law school at California's Pepperdine University, from which he graduated in 1983. Years later, he joked that he was no legal scholar; he reportedly told an audience that he "barely knew where that law library was."

6. Blagojevich met his future wife, Patti, in 1988 at a political fundraiser for her father, influential Chicago Alderman Richard Mell. They married two years later and now have two young daughters.

7. As a young lawyer, Blagojevich spent a few years in private practice and worked as an assistant state's attorney in Cook County. Shortly after meeting Richard Mell, Blagojevich was placed on the city of Chicago's payroll; however, his exact position is unclear.

8. With the help of his father-in-law's political connections, Blagojevich was elected to the Illinois state House as a Democrat in 1992. Four years later, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Blagojevich and Mell had a public disagreement in 2005 when Blagojevich cited a relative's business for environmental violations; in turn, Mell accused a Blagojevich backer of selling state jobs. Mell later backed away from those remarks.

9. In 2002, Blagojevich won the Illinois governor's race after campaigning as a reformer to replace Republican George Ryan. Ryan was convicted of fraud and racketeering for actions he took when he was Illinois's secretary of state.

10. Blagojevich was re-elected in 2006 in spite of numerous allegations of ethical violations. In addition to his father-in-law's 2005 remarks, which led to federal and state investigations, there were allegations that he had secured a state job for a friend in exchange for $1,500. He also has been closely tied to fundraiser Antoin Rezko, who has since been convicted of fraud and bribery.

Sources:

  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • Chicago Tribune
  • New York Times
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch