CHICAGO — US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias said yesterday that he has been subpoenaed to testify at the corruption trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich.
The first-term Illinois treasurer, a Democrat who is locked in a contentious race for President Obama’s old Senate seat with Republican Representative Mark Kirk, said he was subpoenaed by Blagojevich’s defense team.
Giannoulias’s name was mentioned briefly last week during Blagojevich’s trial. Former Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris was heard on federal wiretaps mentioning that Giannoulias had called about Obama’s old seat on behalf of someone else. Blagojevich is heard telling Harris not to meet with Giannoulias about the matter.
Giannoulias said he introduced a friend of Obama’s to Tom Balanoff, an official with the Service Employees International Union. The friend, Valerie Jarrett, supposedly was Obama’s choice to replace him in the Senate after he was elected president.
Prosecutors say Blagojevich sought favors from the White House in return for Jarrett’s appointment and delivered the message through Balanoff.
Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges that he schemed to get a large payoff, a high-paying job after he left office, or a big campaign contribution in exchange for the Senate seat.
“Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie because he didn’t know how to get a hold of her, and I put the two of them together,’’ Giannoulias said.
He said he also attended an informal meeting between Jarrett and Balanoff shortly after Obama’s election but “didn’t really participate in it’’ and doesn’t remember what they talked about. He said he never talked to Obama or Blagojevich about the matter.