Blagojevich Trial: Former chief of staff says Blagojevich used position to push for jobs for himself and wife

May 4, 2011

Robert Wildeboer and AP Wires

(File/AP)

Job opportunities and career ambitions were centerstage Wednesday at the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

John Harris, who served as Blagojevich's chief of staff during the last days of his administration, testified about Blagojevich's efforts to secure a better paying job for his wife, Patti, as well as his own desires to exit the governorship.

In addition to the testimony, prosecutors played taped phone conversations between the two men.   In one, Blagojevich complains about Obama's success because it makes it difficult for him to run for president.

"I mean, where am I going?," Blagojevich asked.  "And be governor, endlessly a governor?  What else can you do?  Senator?  Okay.  Obama's job, but again, that's spoken for. Mayor of Chicago.  What else would you want to do if you've been governor of Illinois?"

Audio of Blagojevich:

Blagojevich talked about how he'd appoint anyone Obama wanted to the open U.S. Senate if the president would give him a position in his cabinet, or appoint him to an ambassadorship.

Harris also testified Wednesday that Patti Blagojevich's work as a real estate broker was suffering in 2008, and told jurors that the governor talked about appointing his wife to the state pollution control board, a post that paid $100,000 a year. 

He says Blagojevich also had him schedule meetings for his wife with companies that were under contract to do business with state government. 

Harris says that when Patti Blagojevich became upset about the meetings, the governor ordered him to cut off the companies' state business. Harris says he ignored the order.

Harris was a willing participant in the discussions, however, and has pleaded guilty.

He's an attorney and Blagojevich's defense team says the governor relied on advisors like him to make sure they were acting within the law.

Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing.