URBANA, Ill. — A video of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich offering well wishes to a downstate candidate might look like an endorsement, but it’s actually quite the opposite.
“I clicked on it, and it was so weird to hear his voice saying my name,” said Emily Rodriguez (D), who is running an insurgent primary campaign for Champaign County Board. “Because in my household growing up, Rod Blagojevich was like our boogeyman.”
In the video, Blagojevich wishes Rodriguez luck as she runs for her first political office.
“Just remember: stick to your principles, believe deeply in the things that you’re fighting for, and never forget it’s all about the people,” he says.
The well-wishes from the former governor and convicted felon actually came from John Bambenek, a downstate Republican.
“I basically just filled out a web form and he recorded the video,” Bambenek told WCIA.
Blagojevich recently began offering “shout-outs” through the Cameo app, which allows users to get short videos from public figures for a fee.
So for $65, Bambenek was able to get a message from the former governor for Rodriguez, who said she didn’t ask for and doesn’t want his endorsement. If he did offer his backing, she said she’d tell him, “thanks, but no thanks.”
A supporter who received the fake Blagojevich endorsement filed a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Elections, arguing it’s nothing more than an ad for Rodriguez’s opponent, incumbent Democratic County Board Chairman Giraldo Rosales.