The wife of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Illinois has filed suit against Merlin-owned WIQI-FM (i101) for using the likeness of her husband in the now-infamous billboard that had his photo next to the words “He Never Listens to FM News 101.1.”
Blago attorney Sheldon Sorosky, who defended him in court, had previously made the claim that the billboards are a violation of the law under the state Right of Publicity Act, which says, in part, that a person’s image cannot be used for commercial purposes without their permission.
Blago is now about 10 months into serving a 14-year federal prison sentence for corruption.
In suit filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Law Division, Blagojevich says WIQI “used advertising [featuring Blago’s photo] specifically on billboards to attract attention, increase listeners and increase revenues,” reports Crain’s Chicago Business.
The ad campaign ran in May 2012 on buses and trains of the Chicago Transit Authority and on billboards around town. The lawsuit says Merlin “believed that the advertisements featuring Mr. Blagojevich would be fun and get people’s attention.”
Blagojevich, through her lawyers, previously complained to Merlin management about the billboards. The suit seeks $30,000.
Merlin CEO Randy Michaels tells RBR-TVBR: “It’s interesting that a Governor who is in prison for, among other things, trying to sell a Senate seat, also wants money to allow us to comment on his poor judgment.”