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January 21, 2009 12:58 PM

Law Firms Abound in Blago's Campaign Fund Disclosures

Posted by Brian Baxter

While President Barack Obama was being sworn in on Tuesday, and enjoying the Inauguration Day festivities, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was busy getting fingerprinted.

The governor's lawyers also have been keeping busy.

According to documents released on Tuesday to the Illinois State Board of Elections by Blago's campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, four firms have received payments totaling nearly $1.4 million for legal services performed over the last six months.

Winston & Strawn undoubtedly is the most happy of the bunch--the firm finally is getting paid for work done in years past for the embattled Illinois governor.

According to the campaign finance filing, which covers the period between July 1 to December 31 of 2008, Winston received 11 payments on July 15 totaling $750,000 in "debt payments for legal expenses."

The amount had been listed under "debts and obligations" in a previous disclosure made by the campaign fund for the period January 1 to June 30, 2008. (As we reported in December, that might be one reason why the firm declined to represent Blago on his recent legal travails.)

Tuesday's filing also reveals that Blago had nearly $2.7 million in his campaign fund. That's roughly $1 million less than the $3.6 million the fund stated it had on June 30. While Blago managed to raise over $700,000 within the last six months of 2008, his fund had expenditures of nearly $1.5 million.

The bulk of those expenditures were for legal fees to other Chicago firms.

Hinshaw & Culbertson received $13,628.82 during the second half of 2008 and roughly $46,000 before June 30. The Am Law Daily reported earlier this year that Hinshaw corporate partner Anthony Jacob was representing Friends of Blagojevich.

Then there are the lawyers that Blago has turned to for his criminal corruption case currently under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago.

Campaign disclosure forms show that Blago's fund paid $500,000 to Edward Genson's firm, Genson & Gillespie, on December 18. That same day the fund also paid $100,000 to Sheldon Sorosky's firm, Kaplan & Sorosky.

Interestingly enough, sibling publication The National Law Journal reports that neither Genson nor Sorosky are poised to represent Blago at his upcoming Illinois Senate impeachment trial. And Chicago attorney Sam Adam and his son Sam Adam, Jr., also members of the governor's legal team, have said they, too, will not be a part of the Senate proceedings.

While it might seem like the fund is flush with cash for more lawyers, Hinshaw's Jacob told the Chicago Sun-Times that the latest disclosure could be incomplete because the FBI raided the campaign office of Friends of Blagojevich on December 9.

Hinshaw has requested that the FBI return some of the documents it seized so they can file a more complete campaign disclosure report with the state elections board.

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