CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich (search) insisted Friday that he is not connected to corruption at a teachers pension fund and that he does not tolerate misconduct by anyone who works for him.
"I have no involvement whatsoever in anything surrounding the alleged corruption at the teachers retirement system, and nobody close to me does either," Blagojevich said at a news conference.
"We don't operate that way," the Democratic governor said. "No one who is associated with me operates that way, and if they did, they understand I wouldn't tolerate that for a split second."
Two people pleaded guilty Thursday to taking part in a scheme to demand consulting fees from investment firms wanting to do business with the pension fund. They said in their plea agreements that the payments were used to reward campaign donors for the benefit of a "high-ranking public official."
The official was not named, but individuals familiar with the plea agreements, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said it was Blagojevich.
Blagojevich said Friday he did not know the identity of the public official cited in the plea agreements.
Republicans quickly portrayed the accusation as evidence that Blagojevich is corrupt and should be voted out of office.