Rob Blagojevich – no, that’s not a typo, he’s Rod Blagojevich’s brother – took the stand in the federal corruption trial at the Dirksen Building in Chicago’s loop. He did a decent job of distancing himself from his brother, something that many on the stand have successfully done since the trial began. He said that he was close to his brother, the former governor of Illinois, when growing up, but they separated later in life. While Rod went into law with political aspirations, Rob was a military man and ultimately went into business. After their youth, they only spoke several times a year on the phone and saw each other even less.
It was during Rod’s first term as Governor that Rob’s contact with his brother increased. He began helping his brother during his re-election campaign in 2006 by canvassing neighborhoods, working the phones, and helping raise money by approaching groups that he was told had supported his brother previously.
It was in 2008 that Rod asked Rob to take charge of the Friends of Blagojevich entity as Rod wanted someone trustworthy to handle it since his close political workers were being investigated. Rob accepted the responsibility even though he considers himself a Republican.
On a professional level, Rob described his successful military career, then a banking career, and finally real estate career. When he was offered the job by Rod in 2008, he didn’t really want to take it until his wife Julie reminded him that the Blagojevich brother’s mother and father had always wanted them to be close and be able to depend on one another. That ultimately made Rob’s mind up, and he accepted the Friends of Blagojevich position.
Analysts are saying that Rob did a very good job of being sincere and appearing innocent of charges against himself – until questions about his dealings with Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. came up at the end of the day. Then the innocence was beginning to look questionable.
Ordinarily, Robert goes by the name Rob, but since the first day of the trial he has been referred to as Robert to avoid confusion among the jurors when they spoke of Rob or Rod.
The trial continues when Rod, the ex-governor, is expected to take the stand.
Update: 7/20/2010 12:54pm