Blagojevich Impeached!

In an historic first for Illinoisians, lawmakers today voted 114-1 to impeach the embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The governor was charged with corruption in December of last year, and has focused the nation’s attention on the “pay to play” scandals plaguing Chicago and our great state. Notably due to the charge of Blago attempting to sell President-elect Obama’s vacant senate seat. The seat has since been appointed to former Illinois Atty general, Roland Burris creating even more controversy.

What I really want to know (and hopefully find out soon), who that one lawmaker was that voted against impeaching the disgraced governor.

Here is the 69-page draft report outlineing criminal charges against gov. Rod Blagojevich. Charges list his alleged plan to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama, withholding of state funds for the sale of Wrigley Field if Chicago Tribune editorial writers were not fired, and the shake down of Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Illinois’ Problem May Become The Senate’s Problem

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The Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich just did the unthinkable.  This afternoon, the embattled democratic governor named Illinois lawyer and politician, Roland Burris as the person to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. Obama resigned from the U.S. Senate after winning the Presidential election in November.

Illinois has been in the national spotlight since Blaogjevich was arrested earlier this month under corruption charges including suspicion of attempting to sell the vacant seat, or trade it for lucrative favors or positions for him and his wife Patricia. Impeachment proceedings are underway, and there have been bipartisan calls for his resignation. The Senate leadership has already stated that they would block any appointment made by the governor.

The Illinois Senator and second ranking democrat Dick Durbin, and Majority leader Senator Harry Reid are leading the way by obtaining signatures in a draft letter. The letter from the Democratic National Caucus demands the Blagojevich resign and not make the appointment to the Senate. It states that the senators, “would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority … to determine whether such a person should be seated.”

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states; Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.

The Illinois problem just became the nation’s problem, as Senator’s will have to answer to their own constituents as to how they allow this tainted appointment to serve the people of the United States. Do Americans really want a Senator who may have made “a deal” to get appointed? I’m not questioning Mr. Burris’ ethics, but it does start to stink when looking into his past campaign contributions to Blagojevich one of which was over $14,000.  The point being, no matter who this governor would appoint, it will be difficult to separate the office from the taint Blagojevich brought on it.

This appointment is nothing more than a parting shot from a sinking governor, and is a blatant insult to Illinoisans and Americans alike. The taxpayers of Illinois deserve and need a special election. Any appointment of this seat from Blagojevich or his successor, will be ineffective and untrusted by people.

UPDATE:
Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White released a statement saying, ” As I have previously stated publicly, I cannot co-sign a document that certifies any appointment by Rod Blagojevich for the vacant United States Senate seat from Illinois…”

Questions Remain

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People’s Seat

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Mystery Candidates of the Blagojevich Complaint

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This is a concise list of the undisclosed senate candidates mentioned in the complaint against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Some of these “mystery players” have already admitted their contact with the embattled governor. Others are some “best guess” opinions based on what research I have done. None of these candidates have been accused of any wrongdoing.

Senate Candidate #1
Valerie Jarrett
Obama’s choice to fill his seat. Advisor A and B were negotiating for this choice.

Senate Candidate #2
Lisa Madigan
Leaked to Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun Times to put pressure for Obama’s choice.

Senate Candidate #3
Jan Schakowsky
She speculates herself that she may be #3.

Senate Candidate #4
Deputy Governor Louanner Peters
Blagojevich considered this person “loyal” enough to give up the senate seat to him should impeachment be imminent.

Senate Candidate #5
Jesse Jackson Jr.
Announced at press conference the he is #5. Denies any wrongdoing.

Senate Candidate #6
J.B. Pritzker
Sneed “leaked” this name on Nov. 28,  as being on a short list for the senate seat.
or
Blair Hull
Former Senate candidate who lost to Obama. Huge Blagojevich contributor. Has had several questionable links to the governor.

Blagojevich and the Illinois Conundrum

blagojevichToday, in a “not so surprising” move the F.B.I. arrested Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on federal corruption charges. What was unexpected, was the news that he was trying to sell the senate seat that Barack Obama left vacant to prepare for the presidency. The governor was taken into custody at his home, on charges of seeking bribes in exchange for Barack Obama’s former senate seat. The arrest of the Governor and his Chief of Staff, John Harris has sparked a storm of controversy, questions, and calls for the governor to resign or be impeached. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) has also called for special elections to fill the vacant senate seat.

“The General Assembly should enact a law as quickly as possible calling for a special election to fill the Senate vacancy of Barack Obama. No appointment by this governor could produce a credible replacement,” the Senator said.

Lt. Governor Pat. Quinn called for the Governor to resign today saying, “Do the right thing and step aside”.  Lt. Gov. Quinn would succeed Blagojevich as governor, should he resign or be impeached.

Blagojevich’s arrest not only raises credibility concerns over who will take the senate seat. It challenges the credibility of anyone who has ever had dealings with the governor. This includes all of the Senate hopefuls like Lisa Madigan and Jesse Jackson Jr. the  Lt. Governor Pat Quinn,  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and the current president elect, Mr. Obama himself, and his advisers. The Obama transition team denies having any discussions with Blagojevich about the senate seat for sale, and in fact some of the evidence against Blagojevich suggests that the Obama team was not going to “Pay to Play” this senate game with him.

However, Senior Obama adviser Axelrod said on November 23rd, “I know he’s [Obama] talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.” It is thought that Obama would have liked to see Valerie Jarrett take his former seat.

This begs the question, “How did Blagojevich know that Obama or his advisers would not play, and why was he so angry about it”?  The governer was secretly taped on Nov. 11 saying, “I don’t get anything [for appointing Jarrett], “Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him!”

See court complaint documents in this post

I am sure that in the coming days we will be learning more about who knew what and when. We will also witness the political wrangling and finger pointing that is common in Illinois. No doubt we will also see Blagojevich lie all the way to big house and try to hold on to his job proclaiming his innocence. I am also sure that  impeachment proceedings will follow by the end of this week if there is no resignation.

In question of course is, who will now appoint Obama’s replacement in the Senate and how will that appointment be perceived in Illinois. Any appointment by Blagojevich or Quinn is suspect in my opinion. I agree with Senator Durbin (can you believe it), that a special election must be held to avoid any perception of corruption or the same old Illinois politics. 

A special election also gives rise to the chance a Republican can take that senate seat and, given the current state of affairs, that canidate might just have a chance to win in the Democratic stronghold of Illinois and Chicago.

I have heard it said, that Illinoisians like their officials to be corrupt. Well maybe that’s true in Crook county and in Springfield, but I think it’s about time we restructure our leadership. People in this state are sick of the corruption and pay to play politics that is bleeding our state dry. It’s time for new ethical leadership in the Governors office, and in all of our represenatives and elected officials. The time to act is now. The time for ethical reform in the State of Illinois has never been more important and more obvious.