CHICAGO - Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told jurors Tuesday he had not been interested in taking campaign donations in exchange for President Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat.
In his third day on the stand at his corruption retrial, the ousted governor addressed the most explosive allegation against him, that he tried to sell or trade Obama's Senate seat.
Blagojevich said supporters of Rep. Jesse Jackson had promised to do "accelerated fund-raising" for him if he appointed Jackson. But Blagojevich said such a deal never appealed to him and sounded improper. He said he had had no intention of appointing Jackson with or without the offer of money.
He mentioned a list of candidates he was considering before Obama's election as president in November 2008, and Jackson wasn't on the list.
Blagojevich eventually appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris.
Earlier Tuesday, the ousted governor devoted most of his testimony to allegations that he tried to squeeze executives for cash, including road builder Gerald Krozel and hospital CEO Patrick Magoon.
Blagojevich denied trying to shake down shake Krozel for a political donation or threatening him in any way. "No, no," Blagojevich said, shaking his head slightly.
Krozel testified earlier for the government that Blagojevich pressured him by dangling the possibility that he might launch a multibillion-dollar highway program urgently needed by the ailing industry. Krozel said Blagojevich made it clear the state program was contingent on the donation.
Blagojevich also denied threatening to cancel an $8 million pediatric-care reimbursement unless the CEO of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago came up with a campaign donation.
Magoon had testified that he never made the donation because he felt wrongly pressured by Blagojevich.