Tags: US | Blagojevich | Trial

Aide Says Blago Hid in Bathroom to Avoid Staff

Thursday, 08 Jul 2010 02:17 PM

Rod Blagojevich hid in the bathroom, ducked into the back room and left the office early to avoid discussing complex issues with his top aides, his former deputy said Thursday at the ousted governor's corruption trial.

Former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee portrayed Blagojevich as disengaged from daily affairs of state, saying Blagojevich spent on average about two to eight hours a week in his office when he was governor. He said that during working hours, the governor generally was at home or attending high-profile events.

Greenlee said he would confer with Blagojevich by telephone when they discussed issues and policy matters, but that he once had to go to dinner with the governor and his family at a bowling alley to get Blagojevich to focus on legislation that had to be addressed immediately.

He brought 20 bills to the bowling alley, he said, walking a reluctant governor through legislation that would have automatically become law had he taken no action. Blagojevich ended up vetoing some.

Former key aide John Filan, Greenlee testified, had to chase after the governor to get him to discuss important items.

"He would hide in the bathroom, hide in the back room or leave early," Greenlee said.

Greenlee said Blagojevich went to great lengths to avoid staffers whom he felt disagreed with him too often.

He said he himself was skeptical when Blagojevich spoke of his hopes of getting a job in Washington, but kept his mouth shut because Blagojevich would become argumentative if he got unwelcome news.

"The best way to maintain good relations with him was ... to tell him what he wanted to hear," Greenlee said.

Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to trying to get a high-paying job or big campaign contribution in return for the appointment to the Senate seat Barack Obama was leaving to move to the White House. He has also pleaded not guilty to taking part in a racketeering scheme using the powers of the governor's office.

Robert Blagojevich, 54, has pleaded not guilty to taking part in the scheme involving the Senate seat and to scheming to pressure businessmen for campaign funds.

The former governor appeared unfazed by the past few days of testimony. He stepped off an elevator beaming on Thursday, and approached spectators waiting in line to get into his courtroom. Raising both arms high over his head, he said in a loud voice, "I've said it once and I'll say it again — innocent of all charges." Some spectators laughed, while others shook their heads.

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