Gov. Rod Blagojevich's wife received the real estate commission in a $650,000 condominium sale from a businessman who since has won $10 million in no-bid state contracts.
The seller was Mark T. Wight, owner of Wight & Company, an architecture firm that won three new contracts with the state's toll highway authority after the 2005 sale. The buyer was John R. Wyma, Wight's tollway lobbyist and a longtime Blagojevich insider.
The governor's chief spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the deal, but said Patricia Blagojevich earned "a standard commission for her work."
A standard commission ranges from 4 percent to 6 percent, which would put her fee between $26,000 and $39,000 since she was the only real estate agent in the deal.
"She has been friends with John Wyma for many years," Abby Ottenhoff said in a written statement Thursday, "so it was natural that he would seek her services when he was looking for a new condominium.
"She worked with him for over a year and handled the negotiations, closing and contract documents for Mr. Wyma."
The disclosure of the deal provides another example of the governor benefiting -- both personally and politically -- from people seeking business or influence with his administration.
The revelations also pose political problems for Blagojevich, whose administration is besieged by multiple criminal investigations into allegations that government business, jobs and other favors were traded for campaign donations.
Patricia Blagojevich has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The governor and his wife have declined to personally answer questions or provide a detailed accounting of Patricia Blagojevich's real estate income and clients. In his only comment on the matter to the Tribune, the governor last year called the questions "Neanderthal" and "sexist."
Real estate records show the Wicker Park condominium was never officially listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service, a nationwide market listing commonly used by agents.
Patricia Blagojevich had been house-hunting for Wyma for months. But Wyma and Wight found each other without Blagojevich's help. Still, Wight said, he decided to pay her the commission anyway.
"When I talked with John about his interest in my condominium it was clear to me he had been working with a real estate agent for months," Wight said in a written response. "I had always intended to pay a commission to an agent, regardless of who that agent was.
"I later learned that John was working with Patti Blagojevich."
The deal closed Jan. 7, 2005.
The day before the closing, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority approved a no-bid, $2 million contract with Wight & Company for various tollway design services. That contract was later increased to $2.5 million.
Since then, Wight has been awarded two more contracts totaling $7.5 million for inspection services and design work on the tollway. None of the contracts were competitively bid. State law allows no-bid deals for professional services.
Tollway spokeswoman Joelle McGinnis said Wight has been a tollway contractor going back 15 years and said the latest contracts had nothing to do with the real estate deal. Rather, she said, the company got more work because of its good reputation and because the tollway was embarking on a major expansion.
Another inside deal for governor's wife
Brokered condo sale for state contractor
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