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Blagojevich Homecoming: Laughter, Boos at Northwestern Ethics Speech

5 years ago
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Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich went home Tuesday night, received with laughter and boos from 1,000 students at Northwestern University, his alma mater, during a speech on ethics in government.

Blagojevich, who is under federal indictment, said the FBI subpoenaed his grades and other student information from his years at the Evanston campus. Referring to his time at Pepperdine Law School in California, he said, "If they look at those grades, they'll see I obviously never cheated on an exam."

One Northwestern student had another take on the choice of topic for the ousted governor: It was like inviting Tiger Woods to speak about fidelity, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Throughout out the speech, hosted by the College Democrats, Blagojevich insisted he was innocent of corruption charges -- an indictment on 16 counts of extortion, fraud, racketeering and bribery, including an allegation that he tried to barter away President Obama's vacated Senate seat in 2008.

"I am innocent of all charges," Blagojevich said, according to the Daily Northwestern. "I was not only ethical, but I kept my promises."

Dan Rockoff, a vice president of the Campus Democrats, said Blagojevich was invited to speak on ethics because "the best way to better our politics isn't to ignore the past, but to learn from it."

Blagojevich was booed -- one spectator shouted, "Shame!" -- when he compared the Senate Democrats' reluctance to welcome his Senate appointee, Roland Burris, to the actions of southern segregationists. "You don't like Burris?" he asked his antagonist. "No -- you," the heckler responded. "My friend, I have love in my heart for you," the onetime governor replied.

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