'Anti-corruption' GOP candidate hosts event with governor imprisoned for corruption


After Trump commuted Rod Blagojevich's sentence, he will now host a fundraiser celebrating Trump's renomination.

Months after Donald Trump commuted his sentence for convictions on 17 federal corruption counts that included extortion, wire fraud, and accepting bribes, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will hold a fundraising event celebrating Trump's run for reelection to the White House. His beneficiary: a Republican Illinois state Senate candidate running as an "anti-corruption" reformer.

Republican businessman Thomas McCullagh is running for the open Joliet-area 49th District seat in the Illinois Senate. On Sunday evening, he announced that he will host an in-person fundraiser on Aug. 27 with Blagojevich "to celebrate President Donald J. Trump's RNC 2020 nomination."

The $150-a-plate event in St. Charles, Illinois, will feature an "intimate address" by the former "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant who was convicted of felony corruption in 2011.

It will also include speeches by conservative media contributors and the co-chair of the Illinois Trump Victory campaign.

Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office in 2009 after recordings caught him trying to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected president. Two years later, he was found guilty on a total of 17 out of 20 counts and sentenced to 14 years in prison sentence.

Trump commuted Blagojevich's sentence in February, saying, "Many people disagree with the sentence" and adding that he "seemed like a very nice person."

Blagojevich appears to be an odd fit for McCullagh's campaign, which has been largely focused on government integrity.

"Hello, my name is Thomas McCullagh, and I think you and I probably have a lot in common. Like you, I am fed up with the rampant corruption throughout our political system," the state Senate candidate said in a statement that was posted on the website Ballotpedia last year.

"I am the anti corruption candidate, for too long have politicians taken advantage of their positions. We must pass stronger ethics laws to prevent this," he said.

Asked about the apparent contradiction, McCullagh's campaign said in an email on Monday, "Following Gov. Blagojevich's recent commutation by President Trump, Mccullagh is welcoming him to the table to give us an inside look to help understand the depths of the [Illinois state House Speaker Michael] Madigan machine and how to end corruption in Illinois."

Last month, McCullagh called for Madigan's resignation, complaining: "Madigan and other top Illinois Democrats have made millions through backdoor deals and bribery. They have forsaken the good people of Illinois for their own political and personal benefit and have allowed us to be over-taxed, over-burdened, and under-represented."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.