Rod Blagojevich Favored $2,500 Shirts and $195 TiesS

Turns out famous hairstyle Rod Blagojevich had a shopping habit that was fucking golden. He and his wife Patti spent over $400,000 on clothing over seven years, and they owed more than $90,000 on their credit cards.

In a period of a couple weeks in 2006, reports the Times, Blagojevich visited Saks Fifth Avenue three times, and spent over $1,700 on ties alone.

The son of Serbian immigrants, Milorad Blagojevich's mother was a ticket-taker for the Chicago Transit Authority and his father was a steelworker. After an undistinguished career at Pepperdine ("I barely knew where that law library was," he once said), Blagojevich married into the Mells, one of the most powerful families in the Chicago political machine. This launched his political career; he eventually became a do-nothing congressman, and won the governorship. Although not the first or only corrupt politician from Illinois — in the House, Blagojevich's predecessor committed mail fraud, and the guy who was governor before Blagojevich is currently serving a six-year sentence in federal prison — he does bear the distinction of being the only Illinois governor to ever be impeached for corruption. After removing Blagojevich from power, the state Senate voted to bar him from ever holding public office in Illinois again.

That Blagojevich liked to shop is not necessarily news, although some of the details over which the Times salivates are. Blagojevich shopped, shopped, and shopped some more. According to a July New Yorker story about his then-ongoing trial, a story that is not available online, Patti and Rod Blagojevich carried on a little like the Imelda and Ferdinand Marcos of Illinois, favoring fur coats and designer clothes:

Testimony from a government financial analyst stated that he spent more than four hundred thousand dollars on clothing over seven years. Credit-card bills entered as evidence show that he and his wife were regular patrons of Saks Fifth Avenue and of a Chicago custom tailor; aides testified that Blagojevich spent an inordinate amount of time being fitted for suits. Even as he and Patti spent lavishly on clothing, Blagojevich is heard on wiretaps worrying about the couple's finances and wondering whether they will have enough money to send their daughter to college. The analyst testified that the couple had more than ninety thousand dollars in credit-card debt.

Blagojevich has listened to these stories with equanimity. The day after hearing the allegations of sartorial extravagance, he showed up in court in charcoal-gray bespoke. "How's the suit?" he asked a TV reporter.

During one such visit to that bespoke clothier, the Times says Blagojevich spent $18,026.27. He wore his suits with $2,500 shirts and $1,200 shoes, like Little Lord Fauntleroy: The Chicago Years. It must be said that for a man who spent that much money on his appearance, he looked awfully average. One would expect a $2,500 white spread-collar shirt to look manifestly different from other white spread-collar shirts, to announce itself as distinct from the inferior $100 and $200 and $300 white spread-collar shirts favored by middle-aged Wall Streeters and men in real estate. But money really has little relationship to taste. It also doesn't take a personal shopper to make the conclusion that in the throes of a shopaholism so extreme, Blagojevich may have looked for ways to enrich himself while in office.

And the bizarre behavior that the Blagovjevichs (Blagojeviches? Blagojevi— Blago—sigh) engaged in following the former governor's arrest — like their multiple appearances on reality television — likely stem as much from cupidity as from stupidity. Patti Blagojevich even went on "I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!" and ate a tarantula. At the time, he alluded to the fact that they needed the money. Fellow cast members Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt prayed with Patti Blagojevich for her husband to be exonerated. With one conviction, and the promise of a retrial on 23 charges the jury could not reach a verdict on, it looks like they didn't quite get their wish.

Blagojevich And His Taste For Dapper Ties [NYTimes]