Maywood and Balmoral Park owner John Johnston testified Monday at the alleged corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that he felt pressured by his own lobbyist to make a $100,000 campaign contribution in exchange for the governor’s signature on a bill that required the riverboat casinos to share profits with the racetracks.
In reported testimony, Johnston stated that lobbyist Alonzo Monk told him on Dec. 3, 2008, that: “I spoke to the governor and he’s concerned that if he signs the racing legislation, you might not be forthcoming with a contribution.”
Johnston added that he responded to Monk by saying, “I got agitated, animated…I shut the conversation down.
“Monk was supposed to be working on my behalf, and I was angry he was pressing me for a contribution.”
In cross-examination, Blagojevich’s lawyer asked Johnston to confirm that only Monk—not Blagojevich himself—ever put pressure on him to make a financial contribution.
“That’s correct…my own lobbyist,” responded Johnston, who in earlier reports stated he paid Monk $150,000 annually for his lobbying services.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to corruption charges that he used the power of his office to launch a racketeering scheme, and also to charges that he schemed to sell of trade the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. He could face up to $6 million in fines if convicted, as well as 415 years in prison, although he reportedly would receive a much lesser sentence under federal guidelines.