Blagojevich’s lawyer, Aaron Goldstein, asked whether Blagojevich had delayed signing the legislation to extort Johnny Johnston, a track owner who testified he felt a Blagojevich adviser had connected a campaign contribution to the signing.
Blagojevich painted Johnston – as well as other alleged victims -- as political players who were used to giving campaign money.
The former governor said he had a good relationship with Johnston and his father, fellow horseman Billy Johnston.
“A very good relationship; they were big supporters,” he said. “They raised a lot of money for my campaigns.”
The Johnstons also expanded his fundraising universe, Blagojevich said. The father and son were partnered with the late George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, he testified, remembering a Johnston fundraiser attended by Donald Trump and Regis Philbin.
Goldstein asked what John Johnston’s position was on lobbying, drawing an objection from Assistant U.S. Atty. Reid Schar.
“I object to that one, too,” Blagojevich said to his own lawyer. “I don’t understand it.”
Goldstein was trying to get at Johnston’s link to Alonzo “Lon” Monk, a former Blagojevich chief of staff who went on to lobby for the Johnstons.
At that point U.S. District Judge Zagel sent the jury home until tomorrow morning – a rare Friday session for the trial.
The judge said Blagojevich’s testimony will end at noon tomorrow and the jury would recess for the holiday weekend.
Blago on fundraising: 'Gives you independence'¿¿¿
4:28 p.m. CDT May 26, 2011
Rod Blagojevich's testimony has moved to the key year in his corruption case – 2008 – and to the topic of campaign fundraising.
Fundraising was very important to him, Blagojevich said, because it was a demonstration of political prowess. “To take your case, in the media age, to the people,” he said. “Unless you’re independently wealthy, this is how our laws are.”
Blagojevich then started to pontificate on the political influence of multimillionaire candidates, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel stopped him once again from speech-making.