Rod Blagojevich was a golden boy in Illinois politics, jetting from Congress to the governor’s mansion in a flash. Once there, it seems, he had his eye on the gold, converting the office into a cash machine.

Now, ever the opportunist, Blago has his eye on a new gilded treasure: freedom, by way of Donald Trump. And on Thursday it looked like Trump might have fallen for the imprisoned former governor — and “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant — when the president said he is considering commuting Blagojevich’s sentence.

Back in 2008, Blagojevich summed up his view tightly in a conversation with an aide, recorded courtesy of a wiretap by the FBI, already deep into an investigation of his widespread corruption at the time. Blago saw his duty to name a new U.S. senator, after Barack Obama got elected president, as his ticket to profit.

“I’ve got this thing and it’s f—— golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f—— nothing. I’m not gonna do it,” Blagojevich boasted in a wiretapped phone call.

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David Greising

David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative...