WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected flamboyant former two-term Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appeal of convictions on corruption charges including attempted extortion from campaign contributors, wire fraud and other crimes.
The court left in place last July’s ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the bulk of the convictions. Blagojevich began serving a 14-year prison sentence in 2012.
Prosecutors said Blagojevich was at the center of a conspiracy to seek cash, campaign contributions and jobs for himself and others in exchange for state appointments, state business, legislation and pension fund investments.
Among those actions were attempts to leverage his authority as governor to appoint a U.S. senator from Illinois when Barack Obama left his Senate seat after being elected president in 2008, prosecutors said.
Patti Blagojevich, the former governor’s wife, expressed disappointment with the court’s action.
“We are hopeful that after the governor is resentenced, as a result of a federal appeals court tossing out five of the counts against him, that the highest court may be moved to take the case then,” she said in a statement released by a spokesman. “This was, of course, not the outcome that Rod, our daughters Amy and Annie, had hoped and prayed for. But we continue to have faith in the system.”
Blagojevich, first elected in 2002, was arrested in 2008 while still governor and was impeached by the state’s General Assembly in 2009, becoming the first Illinois governor to be removed from office. His 18 convictions, five of which were thrown out by the appeals court, came in two jury trials.
From the time of his arrest until his conviction, Blagojevich launched a national campaign to proclaim his innocence, appearing on television shows including Donald Trump’s program “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Blagojevich was caught on court-approved wiretaps describing the Senate seat as something so valuable “you just don’t give it away for nothing.” Blagojevich added he might appoint himself if he could not get anything for the seat.
He was known for his love of Elvis Presley, his tendency to quote poetry and his full head of carefully tended thick black hair. He was criticized while in office for rarely being in the state capital of Springfield, and letting legislation stall.
Blagojevich was the fourth former Illinois governor to be convicted of criminal charges since 1973.
The case is Blagojevich v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-664.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Will Dunham