FILE - In this June 21, 2010 file photo, Illinois Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias speaks before The Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago.
Updated: Sunday, 27 Jun 2010, 2:20 PM EDT
Published : Sunday, 27 Jun 2010, 2:20 PM EDT
CHICAGO (AP) - U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said Sunday that he has been subpoenaed to testify at the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The first-term Illinois treasurer, a Democrat who's locked in a contentious race for President Barack Obama's old Senate seat with Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, told The Associated Press that he was subpoenaed by Blagojevich's defense team.
Giannoulias' name was mentioned briefly last week during Blagojevich's trial. Former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris was heard on federal wiretaps mentioning that Giannoulias had called about Obama's old seat on behalf of someone else.
Giannoulias told the AP that he introduced a friend of Obama's to Tom Balanoff, an official with the Service Employees International Union. The friend, Valerie Jarrett, allegedly was Obama's choice to replace him in the Senate after he was elected president.
Prosecutors say Blagojevich sought favors from the White House in return for Jarrett's appointment and delivered the message through Balanoff.
Blagojevich, 53, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he schemed to get a large payoff, a high-paying job after he left office or a big campaign contribution in exchange for the Senate seat. He also has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to launch a racketeering scheme using the power of the governor's office.
If convicted, he could face up to $6 million in fines and a sentence of 415 years in prison, although he is certain to get much less time under federal guidelines.
"Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie because he didn't know how to get a hold of her, and I put the two of them together," Giannoulias said.
He said he also attended an informal meeting between Jarrett and Balanoff sometime after Obama's election but "didn't really participate in it."
"I thought she would make a terrific senator so I wanted to be helpful," Giannoulias said.
Last week, prosecutors at Blagojevich's trial played an FBI tape on which Harris is heard telling the governor that the Obama camp sent word that it would be "thankful and appreciative" if Jarrett were appointed to the Senate seat. Jarrett, a Chicago businesswoman and former aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley, was a longtime Obama family friend.
Blagojevich had allegedly sent word through Balanoff that he would appoint Jarrett if Obama agreed to appoint him as secretary of health and human services.
He apparently took the words "thankful and appreciative" as a sign that the Obama camp didn't want such a deal. Jarrett later withdrew her name and is now a White House adviser. Blagojevich named former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the Senate.
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