Published January 24, 2009
After comparing his plight to the unfair persecution of rogue cowboys, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is rounding up the horses for a media blitz that'll include TV appearances Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," and ABC's "The View " and "Good Morning, America."
Helping Blagojevich circle the wagons is the Tampa-based Publicity Agency, which is the same public relations firm that represents Drew Peterson, the former suburban Chicago police office who is a suspect in his wife's disappearance.
Blagojevich's impeachment trial in the state Senate is also set to start Monday, though the governor has said he won't show up or mount a defense, complaining the trial rules are unfair.
"The governor has decided that he wants to speak and tell his side of the story, and he enlisted us to help," Glenn Selig, the PR firm's founder, said on Saturday.
Blagojevich has given several interviews in the last few days, portraying himself as the victim of vengeful lawmakers and special interests.
And on Friday, he held yet another fiery and often rambling news conference to say the state Senate is trampling on his constitutional rights, "hanging" him before he can get a fair trial. Those comments came a day after he compared his arrest last month to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Shortly after the news conference Friday -- and perhaps because of it -- Blagojevich's attorney, Ed Genson, suggested the governor was out of control and wouldn't listen to him. Genson is withdrawing from the case.
Blagojevich is accused of trying to sell President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder and engaging in other pay-to-play schemes. He has pledged his innocence, saying fellow Democrats want him out of office so they can thwart his good work as governor.
But Blagojevich has been careful not to answer questions in recent days about specific federal allegations. Selig said the governor would still have plenty to say.
"He has some very strong opinions about what's going on in the (Illinois) Senate and how he's been treated," he said. "And he wants to get that message out."
Selig said that his agency will be responsible for dealing with the media on personal matters related to Blagojevich -- not with issues directly related to Illinois state business.
It remains to be seen whether hiring Publicity Agency will pay off for Blagojevich. Peterson, with the firm's help, embraced the media spotlight last year despite the disappearance of his wife, Stacy Peterson, whom Peterson claims left him for another man. He has not been charged in her disappearance.
Selig said there's nothing to link Peterson and Blagojevich other than their high profiles.
"They are totally different cases," Selig said. "They each offer their own challenges for the individuals. The only thing they have in common is they are both big stories in the news."