Former Deputy Finance Director For Fundraising For Rod Blagojevich Testifies at Trial

We were not paying those bills because we did not want to reflect a high legal bill on the D-2s.”

— Danielle Stilz, Deputy Finance Director, Friends of Blagojevich

Danielle Stilz, deputy finance director for Friends of Blagojevich from 2005 to 2007, is testifying about the ex-governor's involvement in campaign fund-raising.

Blagojevich was active in many aspects of fund-raising during Stilz's tenure, she said, taking part in strategy meetings, placing calls to prospective donors, etc.

Stilz testifies that Blagojevich would ask her for details about fund-raising before and after events.

"He would ask me how much money we were supposed to raise, how much money before the event. When I arrived at the event, I would let him know (how much) we had collected," she said.

That again, files in the face with what prosecutors say Blagojevich told them in a 2005 interview: that he stayed away from specifics with campaign fund-raising.

Stilz said she was told not to pay out legal bills from Winston & Strawn. She was to direct those bills to Blagojevich friend Lon Monk.

Jurors saw Rod Blagojevich's credit card statements last week and an IRS accounting of his expenses showed he spent $400,000 on high-end clothing.

Blagojevich didn't try tapping his campaign fund to pay for those custom suits, though.

Defense lawyer Michael Gillespie asked former Friends of Blagojevich campaign finance director Danielle Stilz if Rod Blagojevich ever told her: 'I just bought some suits, cover those?' "
"No," she said.

Danielle Stilz, once a deputy finance director for Blagojevich, testified she left the Friends of Blagojevich in the fall of 2007 because she didn’t think the organization’s fundraising goals were realistic.

She didn’t specifically say it, but the suggestion was that Stilz thought the amounts sought by the governor and his campaign fund were way too high. She said she tried to leave three times, and finally told Blagojevich her thoughts herself.

The governor didn’t respect her opinion, she said.

“He thought I didn’t know what I was talking about,” Stilz told the jury.

Danielle Stilz, deputy finance director for Blagojevich from 2005 until September 2007, said the governor himself attended fundraising meetings.

Stilz said she kept and edited information in a Friends of Blagojevich database of donors, generating reports on who was giving before fundraising meetings. Occasionally Blagojevich would call in with updates on donations from individuals, she testified.

Reports would show what had been projected to come in for an event and what actually had been collected. For example, on one list shown to the jury, Springfield power broker William Cellini was listed as hosting a lunch on Feb. 21, 2005 that was projected to bring in $174,500. It actually hit $177,000.