Florida Charity Says They'll Gladly Accept Blago Money

The Children's Cancer Center of Tampa, Florida has no qualms

By Phil Rogers
|  Tuesday, Jan 5, 2010  |  Updated 1:55 AM PDT
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Illinois Politics Goes MAD

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Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich | Indicted: 2008. Former Gov. Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents in Dec. 2008. The month following his release he was impeached by the Illinois House of Representatives and forced to leave office. His trial is scheduled to start in the summer of 2010.

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A Florida children's charity says it is "honored" to be selected as the recipient of donations from the upcoming appearance of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on the NBC reality series "Celebrity Apprentice". 

Blagojevich says he will be playing on behalf of the Children's Cancer Center of Tampa Florida, the same charity which benefited from his wife Patti's appearance on a previous NBC reality show, "I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!"
 
During that appearance last year, Mrs.Blagojevich found some charities refusing her money.  Her first choice, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation of Chicago declined the donation, telling the Chicago Tribune at the time, "We want to be a respectable organization and not hurt any of the people that support us and that we work with." 

Her husband told interviewers other charities also refused the Blagojevich donation.
 
The Florida children's charity says it has no such qualms. 

"These are really difficult times for us," said spokesman Shannon Oliviero. "We felt very fortunate to be a part of the program."
 
Oliviero says her organization received "a little less than $10,000" after Mrs. Blagojevich's television appearance, and she noted that the donation came from the production company, not directly from the Blagojeviches themselves. 

But Oliviero said that made little difference and that the charity would gladly have accepted a direct contribution from the controversial Illinois couple. 

"Nothing's been proven," she said of the governor's pending legal woes, adding that the charity's fundraisers believe they received a large number of added donations generated by the publicity of Patti Blagojevich's appearance. 
 
"The national exposure that we get...is just a dream," she said.  "When you're in Tampa, Florida, and a donation comes in from New Mexico, how else would they hear about the Children's Cancer Center?"
 
The former governor's appearance on the Donald Trump "Celebrity Apprentice" program begins Sunday, March 14.  His fellow contestants will include former baseball star Darryl Strawberry, singer Cyndi Lauper, athletes Michael Johnson and Summer Sanders, and the comedian Sinbad.

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