Illinois’ top legal officer went to the state supreme court earlier today to try to get scandal-plagued Governor Rod Blagojevich temporarily removed from office.
From the International Herald Tribune:
Resisting calls by President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats to resign, Blagojevich showed no sign of stepping down over the accusations that he attempted to sell Obama’s vacant Senate seat for campaign cash or a lucrative job.
In an unprecedented step, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Supreme Court to declare Blagojevich unfit to serve, a move that would hand power to the lieutenant governor.
Madigan said she believes it is a faster way to remove Blagojevich from office than through impeachment, which could take several weeks. Lawmakers were gathering Monday in the state capital of Springfield to debate that possibility.
“I recognize that this is an extraordinary request, but these are extraordinary circumstances,” Madigan said at a news conference.
The move was not welcomed by everyone. Democratic Rep. Jack Franks said it would set “a dangerous precedent” for the court to remove a governor as proposed by Madigan, who is a likely candidate for governor in 2010. Franks, a fierce Blagojevich critic, said that kind of decision should be left to state lawmakers.
Nothing in the federal complaint suggests any wrongdoing by Obama or his staff. But the accusations against the fellow Democrat are an unwelcome distraction to the president-elect. It brings fresh attention to some of the unsavory characters from his Chicago political upbringing who have connections, however distant, to Obama and to questions of whether he can follow through on his message of change and clean government when he takes office next month.
Obama has said he would release the results of an internal investigation into what conversations his aides and advisers may have had with Blagojevich in a matter of days, but he drew criticism from some Republicans for refusing to answer questions about the probe.