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Former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich will headline a fundraiser for a Republican State Senate candidate from Shorewood next week.
Blagojevich will give an "intimate address" at the fundraiser in St. Charles on Aug. 27 for Thomas Scott McCullagh, according to a flyer. The event is also meant to celebrate President Donald Trump's nomination at the Republican National Convention.
Earlier this year, Trump commuted Blagojevich's 14-year federal prison sentence for his convictions related to his efforts to sell the former U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president.
McCullagh argued Blagojevich can be an asset to Republicans because he can give "an inside look into the Madigan machine," referring to the longtime Illinois House Speaker. He said while he doesn't defend Blagojevich's past, he praised the former governor for speaking out against Madigan.
"I do not defend his past actions for one second," McCullagh said.
While news of the fundraiser has received a lot of mixed attention among political news media and commentators, McCullagh said he's received mostly positive feedback from supporters. He also argued Republicans should use every resource they can to combat corruption in Illinois.
As for those who criticize him for accepting support from Blagojevich, McCullagh argued that Illinois Democrats have supported other politicians who've been accused of wrongdoing.
"I feel he has some really good information that we can use," McCullagh said.
McCullagh won the GOP nomination to run in the 49th Senate District this year. He is running against Democrat Meg Loughran Cappel, a teacher from Joliet, in the general election.
Cappel took the opportunity to take a jab at McCullagh on her campaign Facebook page with a photo of a news report on Blagojevich's conviction.
"Yes it's true - my republican opponent is having a fundraiser hosted by Rod Blagojevich," she wrote. "I am committed to listening to the families in my district, not corrupt politicians."