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The Blago Book Race

POSTED: 04:22 PM ET, 03/16/2009 by Amanda Zamora

It appears Chicago journalist Elizabeth Brackett is poised to beat Rod Blagojevich in the race to publish a tell-all account of the embattled ex-governor's fall from grace.

blago_book.jpg

While Blagojevich is apparently getting up at 4 a.m. each morning to hammer out "The Governor" in time for an October release, publisher Ivan R. Dee is preparing to ship out initial copies of Brackett's "Pay to Play" by April 20.

The New York Post's Page Six previewed the Brackett manuscript this morning with a snippet detailing the impeached governor's apparent disregard for fellow legislators: Blagojevich was so late for the 2004 funeral of state Sen. Vince Demuzio that then-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn stepped in to present the lawmaker's grieving widow with the flag from Demuzio's coffin.

The book goes on to trace "how Blagojevich's personal biography and political upbringing led to his spectacular fall," according to an item by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed earlier this month.

Brackett said she began writing the book in late December, taking a month's leave from WTTW Chicago in January to get it finished in time for the official May 15 publishing date. "I've done about 30 new interviews for the book in addition to my 30 years of reporting in Chicago," Brackett said.

What other insider accounts can we expect the veteran PBS correspondent to reveal? Brackett has covered Blagojevich since his 2002 gubernatorial campaign. An election profile from the time depicted a Blagojevich fascinated with politics from a young age, according to a Sun-Times editorial:

As a youngster, his mother gave him plastic miniature statuettes of the American presidents. At grammar school, Blagojevich would run mock elections between some of his favorite presidents. As Brackett shows, this fascination with the White House continued into adulthood. Blagojevich is shown, in jogging clothes, standing next to Richard M. Nixon outside of his New York apartment.

It wasn't long after Blagojevich defeated George Ryan for the governor's mansion in 2002 that his ethics troubles began. According to the Chicago Tribune, federal prosecutors uncovered a scheme that began "only months after Blagojevich took office in which top fundraiser and adviser Antoin "Tony" Rezko conspired with longtime GOP government apparatchik Stuart Levine to split kickbacks from a state pension deal. Rezko also helped ensure Levine's reappointment to a state pension board."

Allegations of kickbacks and fraud continued into Blagojevich's re-election campaign of 2006, and finally resulted in his downfall with his arrest on corruption charges last December. Blagojevich, who was impeached Jan. 30, denies any wrongdoing.

He has signed a six-figure deal with Phoenix books to write his story.

By Amanda Zamora |  March 16, 2009; 4:22 PM ET Blagojevich Scandal
Previous: AIG Pays Millions in Bonuses, Asbestos Allegations at Smithsonian, Red Cross: 'Torture' at CIA Jails | Next: AIG Rage Swells, Center Funneled Money to Murtha Supporters, Sentencing in D.C. Tax Scam

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