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Emanuel named as target of extortion attempt by Blagojevich

A White House aide confirms that Rahm Emanuel was the lawmaker identified in Blagojevich's indictment as 'Congressman A,' the target of an alleged shake-down by the former Illinois governor.

April 03, 2009|John McCormick

CHICAGO — White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was the target of an alleged extortion attempt by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Tribune has learned.

The federal indictment issued Thursday includes a charge that Blagojevich tried to shake down "Congressman A" for campaign cash.

A White House aide confirmed that it was Emanuel, who was then representing Chicago's North Side. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity.

Prosecutors say Blagojevich told one of his aides to block the release of a $2-million state grant for a school in Emanuel's district. Blagojevich also allegedly told a state official that Emanuel's brother needed to host a fundraiser for him.

The White House aide said the brother Blagojevich meant was Ari Emanuel, a Hollywood agent who is active in political fundraising.

Prosecutors said a fundraiser was never held.

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mccormickj@tribune.com

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