Nashville businessman Robert Blagojevich, brother of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, has offered to testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee in the ongoing investigation of Chicago-area Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.
In a letter to the chairman of the ethics committee and its membership, Blagojevich said, "I testified under oath and am prepared to come before your committee to testify that two people representing Congressman Jackson approached me and offered to raise significant campaign funds for my brother in exchange for appointing Representative Jackson to the vacant senate seat."
Robert Blagojevich was indicted by the federal government in 2009, accused of being part of a scheme with his brother to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by then President-elect Barack Obama.
The five counts levied against him have since been dropped. His testimony in a 2010 trial was seen as forthright and showed errors in the government’s case. That trial ended in a hung jury for his brother and a retrial. As an example, Robert was charged for a conversation federal investigators had recorded via wire tap that they said showed a conspiracy. In fact, Robert was not on the phone call, a point the government later conceded.
His brother, however, was convicted earlier this year in a second trial on 17 of 21 counts of wire fraud, attempted extortion, soliciting bribes, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes. The most serious of these charges carry a sentence of 20 years in prison. The Blagojevich sentencing was originally scheduled for Oct. 6. A new sentencing date has yet to be announced.
The House investigation of Jackson's role in the scandal was delayed at the request of the Justice Department until the former governor's case had concluded. That hold was lifted last week and the investigation was reopened.