Union-Affiliated Group Denies Any Role in Blago Scandal

Dec 9, 2008 5:33pm

The union-affiliated organization Change to Win is mentioned throughout the criminal complaint against Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, running the group is allegedly one of the gigs Blago seeks in exchange for naming a U.S. Senate candidate that the President-elect likes. (A qui pro quo President-elect Obama and his team would not enter into.)

Change to Win’s communications director Greg Denier issued a statement just now asserting that "No one connected with Change to Win ever considered, discussed or promised any position at Change to Win to Governor Blagojevich, his staff or his advisers. In the affidavit released by the United States Attorney, a position at Change to Win is discussed only in conversations between the governor and his advisers. The first time Change to Win learned of any of the matters raised in the criminal complaint was with today’s public release of the affidavit."

In a phone call, Denier points out that Change to Win is mentioned within the Blago inner circle, but not with anyone outside of it.

There is a scene from November 12, 2008, where Gov. Blagojevich speaks with an official of the Service Employees International Union — the SEIU is a big part of Change to Win — in Washington, DC.

Blago "understood that SEIU Official was an emissary to discuss Senate Candidate 1′s" — Valerie Jarrett’s — "interest in the Senate seat." Blago informed the SEIU Official that he had heard the President-elect wanted candidates other than Jarrett to be considered for the Senate seat. The official said he’d look into whether Jarrett still wanted him to push for her.

Then Blagojevich raises the idea of heading up a non-profit group affiliated with the union, though not Change to Win, saying "’one thing I’d be interested in’ is a 501(c)(4) organization… SEIU Official agreed to ‘put that flag up and see where it goes.’"

So the SEIU is connected to Change to Win, but the conversation was NOT about Blago joining the group, per the complaint.

And incidentally, the Dickensianly named Greg Denier’s last name is pronounced De-NEER.

– jpt

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