Posted tagged ‘Blagojevich’

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Sent Packing

January 29, 2009

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office today without a single lawmaker rising in his defense, ending a nearly two-month crisis that erupted with his arrest on charges he tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

From the Associated Press:

Blagojevich becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment.

After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him of abuse of power, automatically ousting the second-term Democrat. In a second, identical vote, lawmakers further barred Blagojevich from ever holding public office in the state again.

“He failed the test of character. He is beneath the dignity of the state of Illinois. He is no longer worthy to be our governor,” said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from suburban Chicago.

Blagojevich’s troubles are not over. Federal prosecutors are drawing up an indictment against him on corruption charges.

Outside his Chicago home Thursday night, Blagojevich vowed to “keep fighting to clear my name,” and added: “Give me a chance to show you that I haven’t let you down.”

“I love the people of Illinois today more than I ever have before,” he said.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, one of Blagojevich’s critics, was promptly sworn in as governor.

Blagojevich, 52, had boycotted the first three days of the impeachment trial, calling the proceedings a kangaroo court. But on Thursday, he went before the Senate to beg for his job, delivering a 47-minute plea that was, by turns, defiant, humble and sentimental.

He argued, again, that he did nothing wrong, and warned that his impeachment would set a “dangerous and chilling precedent.”

“You haven’t proved a crime, and you can’t because it didn’t happen,” Blagojevich (pronounced blah-GOY-uh-vich) told the lawmakers. “How can you throw a governor out of office with insufficient and incomplete evidence?”

The verdict brought to an end what one lawmaker branded “the freak show” in Illinois. Over the past few weeks, Blagojevich found himself isolated, with almost the entire political establishment lined up against him. The furor paralyzed state government and made Blagojevich and his helmet of lush, dark hair a punchline from coast to coast.

Illinois House Votes to Impeach Governor Blagojevich

January 9, 2009

It ended up being an overwhelming “Yes” vote this morning in Illinois.

The Illinois House has voted almost unanimously to impeach embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich. The final vote count was 14 yes, 1 no.

From the Associated Press:

The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly Friday to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, an unprecedented action that sets up a Senate trial on whether he should be thrown out for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Impeachment required just 60 votes. The final result was 114-1.

Legislators accused the second-term Democratic governor of letting down the people of Illinois by letting ego and ambition drive his decisions.

“It’s our duty to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that’s become Illinois government,” said Rep. Jack D. Franks, a Democrat.

Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges that include allegations he schemed to profit from his power to name Obama’s replacement in the Senate. The criminal complaint included an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit describing wiretaps that caught Blagojevich allegedly talking about what he could get for the seat, how to pressure people into making campaign contributions and more.

That arrest triggered impeachment hearings by a special House committee.

The committee on Thursday unanimously recommended impeachment based on the criminal charges but other allegations as well — that Blagojevich expanded a health care program without proper authority, that he circumvented hiring laws to give jobs to political allies, that he spent millions of dollars on foreign flu vaccine that he knew wasn’t needed and couldn’t be brought into the country.

“The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own,” the committee’s report said. “It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Blagojevich has denied the criminal charges. He criticized the House impeachment process as biased and said a Senate trial would produce a different result.

Blagojevich to Fill Obama’s Senate Seat With Roland Burris

December 30, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is expected to name former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune.

From MSNBC:

The governor has scheduled a 3 p.m. ET news conference Tuesday, but his spokesman Lucio Guerrero declined to tell the Associated Press what the governor plans to discuss.

Blagojevich has been under pressure to step aside or resign since his arrest earlier this month on federal corruption charges. He’s accused of trying to sell Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has warned Blagojevich that Senate Democrats will not seat anyone the governor appoints. Lawmakers in Springfield are considering whether to proceed with plans to impeach him.

Rod Blagojevich Speaks Out

December 19, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said today that he will be vindicated of criminal corruption charges and has no intention of letting what he called a “political lynch mob” force him from his job.

From the Associated Press:

“I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong,” Blagojevich said, speaking for about three minutes in his first substantial public comments since his arrest last week on federal corruption charges.

The Democrat is accused, among other things, of plotting to sell or trade President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat in secretly recorded phone conversations.

“I’m not going to quit a job the people hired me to do because of false accusations and a political lynch mob,” Blagojevich said.

Still, one of the governor’s attorneys said Blagojevich will take his constituents into account as the case moves forward.

“He told me if it doesn’t work, if it is too hard if the people of Illinois suffer, he will step aside,” attorney Sam Adam, Jr., after the governor finished speaking.

Jesse Jackson Jr. Cooperated With Feds for Years

December 16, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr., who acknowledged being mentioned in a criminal complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, has been sharing information about public corruption with federal investigators for years.

From the Associated Press:

Kenneth Edmonds, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., told The Associated Press that the congressman had spoken about Blagojevich and others.

Edmonds wouldn’t give details of those discussions Tuesday, but WLS-TV in Chicago reported unidentified sources as saying Jackson had told investigators Blagojevich wouldn’t appoint Jackson’s wife as state lottery director because the congressman wouldn’t donate $25,000 to the governor’s campaign fund.

Jackson has acknowledged being the “Senate Candidate 5″ referenced in a federal complaint against Blagojevich that accuses the governor of trying to sell the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

The complaint quoted Blagojevich as saying an associate of the candidate offered to raise money for him if he picked the candidate.

Jackson denies initiating or authorizing anyone to promise anything Blagojevich on his behalf.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan Asks For Blagojevich’s Removal From Office

December 12, 2008

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.

Was Jesse Jackson Jr. ‘Candidate 5’ in Blagojevich Case?

December 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr. was described in an affidavit filed in Illinois Governor  Rod R. Blagojevich’s arrest as one of at least six people being considered  to fill Barack Obama’s unfinished term in the Senate in exchange for money or a new job.

From the New York Times:

Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr., long seen here as someone who was willing, even happy, to clash with this city’s old power structure, found himself tangled up on Wednesday in the fallout from the arrest of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois — now a symbol of that old, unseemly political way.

Specifically, federal authorities said, Mr. Jackson is “Senate Candidate 5,” associates of whom, the governor said in a wire-tapped conversation, were willing to raise money for Mr. Blagojevich in exchange for the seat.

Mr. Jackson, an ambitious Democrat elected to Congress 13 years ago and the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, made a defiant appearance before reporters in Washington on Wednesday, denying unequivocally that he had offered Mr. Blagojevich anything in exchange for the Senate seat or had sanctioned any offer by an intermediary, as Mr. Blagojevich seemed to suggest in recordings.

“I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf,” Mr. Jackson said. “I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period.”

Illinois Governor Arrested

December 9, 2008

Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has been arrested by federal authorities and charged with corruption, including an allegation that he conspired to profit from his authority to appoint President-elect Barack Obama’s successor in the United States Senate.

From Fox News:

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested Tuesday morning in Chicago on two counts each of federal corruption charges stemming from allegations Blagojevich was trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The arrest is part of a three-year probe of “pay-to-play politics” in the governor’s administration. The criminal complaint by the FBI says each man was arrested on two charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

The charges also relate to allegations that Blagojevich and Harris schemed with previously convicted defendants and Obama associates Antonin Rezko, Stuart Levine, Ali Ata and others to arrange financial benefits in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts and access to state funds.

In addition, the case alleges that Blagojevich tried to influence the composition of The Chicago Tribune editorial board in exchange for state aid to the Tribune Company, which owns the newspaper.

Blagojevich and Harris will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court Tuesday.

A statement by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Grant said Blagojevich and Harris “allegedly conspired to sell U.S. Senate appointment, engaged in pay-to-play schemes and threatened to withhold state assistance to Tribune Company for Wrigley Field to induce (the) purge of newspaper editorial writers.”

“The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.


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