Businessmen with ties to both Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson discussed raising $1 million for Blagojevich to help persuade him to appoint Jackson to President-elect Barack Obama‘s vacant Senate seat, according to a published report.
Citing unnamed sources, the Chicago Tribune reports in a story for Friday’s editions that businessman Raghuveer Nayak and Blagojevich aide Rajinder Bedi told attendees at an Oct. 31 meeting that they needed to raise the money for the governor to ensure Jackson’s appointment.
“Raghu said he needed to raise a million for Rod to make sure Jesse got the seat,” an unidentified source who attended the meeting told the Tribune. Blagojevich also attended the meeting, which was sponsored by Nayak, an Oak Brook businessman.
A message left at a listing for Raghuveer Nayak in Oak Brook was not immediately returned early Friday. No published listing for Bedi could be found.
Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges that allege, among other things, a brazen scheme to put Obama’s vacant Senate seat up for sale.
According to the FBI complaint, the Oct. 31 meeting took place the same day federal prosecutors intercepted a conversation in which Blagojevich claims he’d been approached by a representative for an unnamed “Senate Candidate 5” who offered cash in exchange for the Senate seat.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Jackson was the candidate.
“We were approached ‘pay to play,'” Blagojevich said in the call. The candidate would raise $500,000 for Blagojevich, and an emissary would raise an additional $1 million, according to the conversation.
Jackson spokesman Rick Bryant told the Tribune that while Jackson discussed the Senate seat with Nayak, he never asked him to do anything.
Nayak, 54, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Blagojevich and is also close to the Jackson family. Bedi has also been a Blagojevich fundraiser.
The Oct. 31 meeting led to a Blagojevich fundraiser held Saturday that was co-sponsored by Nayak. The governor attended, as did Jackson’s brother Jonathan, who went into business with Nayak several years ago, according to the newspaper report.
Two days later, Jackson met with Blagojevich to discuss the Senate seat.