Friday (Not) Satire: Examining Rod Blagojevich's Personal Spending Habits

It's official. Rod Blagojevich, the last Governor of Illinois, is following in the footsteps of his predecessor as prepares to head for a Federal penitentiary. Rod lives (lived) only a couple miles North of the Spend Matters office and the legends of his spending exploits are legendary among those in our neighborhood, let alone the entire Chicago metropolitan area. As we prepare to send off yet another political crook to jail, we thought it appropriate to share some of his personal spending exploits:

First, at least he kept some spend in America. Oxxford clothes is where Rod allegedly spent $20,000 in a single day...many times over. Apparently, "since 1916, the world's leading men have worn Oxxford for its elegance and character. Early on, gentlemen such as Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Walt Disney and Joe DiMaggio chose Oxxford, and to this day, Oxxford's client list reads like a "Who's Who" of the world's gentlemen." I suppose we can now add Rod to that list? He's certainly dropped his fair share of dough on suits alone. Incidentally, here at Spend Matters, Jason owns a very nice Oxxford summer blazer that he purchased second hand on eBay. Rod's, perhaps ...

Furthermore, IRS agent Shari Schindler found this unsettling discovery while flipping through the family's personal finances. While we definitely plead guilty to spending our rent money on the latest sample sale, it is hard for us to fathom a spending spree that outdoes the cost of the mortgage of one's own home in Chicago's North Side -- in this case, Blagojevich's. According to this article, "IRS Agent Shari Schindler testified Rod and Patti Blagojevich were in debt from 2002 to 2008 and noted several checks to Patti from Tony Rezko." At least Rod was not spending money aimlessly everywhere. His haircut could definitely have undergone a $250 cut and blow (and a lot of others agree).

Alas, his spending charges did add up elsewhere:

Why own a car when the state will drive you (and your entire extended family) everywhere? The Tribune states, "As Schindler gave an overview of the family's spending habits, she noted that the expenditures over the six-year time frame did not reflect any money spent on personal vehicles. Blagojevich and his family relied on state cars and drivers to ferry them everywhere." Schindler also said Blagojevich spent nothing out of his pocket for legal bills. Those expenses, associated with the mounting federal investigations into his administration, were covered by his campaign account.

And the schmancy suits didn't clothe Blagojevich alone. "Credit-card statements entered into evidence by prosecutors showed that Blagojevich or his wife on many occasions charged thousands of dollars at a time with high-end clothiers or shoe stores. They also later returned many of those items. In January 2005, for example, more than $12,000 worth of clothing was returned to Saks Fifth Avenue." Seems that Patti got her fair share as well.

Still, the damage Blagojevich did with his credit card doesn't even begin to add up the damage he caused to the State. Consider the following story that suggests the "Blagojevich mess will linger for years in Illinois." To wit, "they talked about tracking the governor down at his tailor or even a bowling alley to force him to sign legislation. He showed up late for meetings and public events and explained that he had been busy jogging or playing video games with his children. The lack of cooperation that developed with lawmakers delayed many proposals, including major public works projects that would have created jobs."

Worst of all, at least for him, our old pal Blago must now give up his "fancy suits, a doting staff and a comfortable home in a leafy Chicago neighborhood" for "an eight-digit number affixed to his prison clothes, a job scrubbing toilets or mopping floors at 12 cents an hour, his incessant jogging confined to a prison yard."

Or maybe he can just go the Lindsay Lohan route??

- Jason Busch and Sheena Moore

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