December 12th, 2008
09:50 AM ET
14 years ago

Illinois Democratic lawmakers begin impeachment effort for gov

[cnn-photo-caption image="" caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges."]CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - Key Illinois Democratic legislators are circulating a letter urging support for the impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was arrested this week on federal corruption charges relating in part to the selection of President-elect Barack Obama's successor as a U.S. senator.

State Rep. John Fritchey, head of the House Civil Judiciary Committee, sent out the letter Thursday asking Democratic colleagues to say by Friday whether they support a move for impeachment and would like to be added as a co-sponsor of legislation.

"Faced with a significant budget shortfall, a national recession, and a vacant United States Senate seat, we cannot afford to allow Illinois to operate without effective leadership in the (Illinois) executive branch," said the
letter, also signed by Reps. Thomas Holbrook, David Miller and James Brosnahan.

"Simply put, it is imperative to replace Governor Blagojevich as soon as is practicable."

The letter said the impeachment filing was being prepared, and the lawmakers said they expected the process - the state House would bring charges against Blagojevich and he would be tried by the state Senate - would take "a matter of weeks rather than months."

The lawmakers' move coincided with increasing calls for Blagojevich's resignation.

President-elect Barack Obama called again Thursday for Blagojevich to step down, saying the embattled governor can no longer effectively serve the people of Illinois.

"I hope that the governor himself comes to the conclusion that he can no longer effectively serve and that he does resign," Obama said, speaking ahead of announcing his pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

Obama said he was as "appalled and disappointed as anyone" by the allegations against the Democratic governor, and said he was confident none of his staff members were involved in the alleged scandal.

Federal officials said Blagojevich was looking to sell or trade Obama's now open seat in the U.S. Senate.

Obama said he had never spoken to the governor on the subject, adding he was confident that "no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat."

He had asked his staff to gather the facts of any contacts with the governor's office about the vacancy, he said.

"This Senate seat does not belong to any politician to trade. It belongs to the people of Illinois, and they deserve the best possible representation," he said. "They also deserve to know that any vacancy will be filled in an appropriate way so that whoever is sent to Washington is going to be fighting for the people of Illinois."

Earlier Thursday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said she is prepared to go to the Illinois Supreme Court to have Blagojevich declared unfit to serve if he does not resign.

"Obviously the easiest way for us to move on in the state of Illinois is for Gov. Blagojevich to do the right thing for the people and to resign," she told CNN's "American Morning."

She added, "If he fails to, the two other options are obviously the legislature moving forward on impeachment, or I have the opportunity to actually go to our Illinois Supreme Court and ask them to declare, basically, that our governor is unable to serve," she said.

In that case, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn would become acting governor, she said.

Madigan said she won't wait "terribly long" to take action.

"We would like a signal from the legislature if they're going to move forward on impeachment proceedings. ... I think there are obviously numerous members of the legislature calling for impeachment proceedings," she said, noting that the legislature, which is currently adjourned, will meet Monday to discuss the possibility of holding special election for Obama's successor.

Fritchey, in the letter to Democratic lawmakers, commended Madigan's willingness to initiate that procedure, but said "both the duration as well as the outcome of such a proceeding are inherently uncertain and speculative."

"We would also note the comments of the Attorney General indicating her support of impeachment proceedings as an appropriate course of action at this time," the letter said.

Filed under: Illinois • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (224 Responses)
  1. Slick

    The guy's a scumbag and so is his wife.

    December 12, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Jerry

    IF Obama is lying about any involvement, watch for the "Governor" to suddenly hang himself (Clinton style) in jail!

    December 12, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  3. hauntedrollercoaster

    Wouldn't it be better FIRST to call a special election for that Senate seat, THEN to deal with impeachment? The Senate seat is very time-sensitive.

    December 12, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. BB

    Anyone that does NOT favor immediate impeachment should be sent packing also. Blago is the worst of the bad.

    December 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  5. KJL

    Get rid of the bum. And replace him with a person of integrity, if such an individual exists in politics up there.

    December 12, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Rtreff

    I was hoping you were talking about Impeaching the far bigger criminals – Bush and Cheney!

    December 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. BOJ Jr From Raleigh

    Good job President-Elect for asking him to step down. Blagojevich needs to step down and go some where maybe Alaska take it easy for a little. We do not need people like this as public servants. I like how Blagojevich said he would get nothing in return from Obama on the wire tapes and thats exactly right.

    December 12, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  8. DC Doll

    Blago needs to go, NOW!!! He is a disgrace to his country, to his state, and to his family. He should not be in a position of public trust.

    December 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  9. scott

    Someone should take some of the kickback money and buy his wife a broomstick. Seems she'd be more comfortable using that mode of travel.

    December 12, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  10. JWheeler

    Do it quickly and get this hair-ball out of power!

    December 12, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  11. Malcom

    Pop that guy and then we can start working on Obama and the rest of that sorry crew.

    December 12, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  12. Jozee

    Impeach Blago, replace him with effective leadership, and let's move on! Every economic indicator we have is pointing south with no end in sight. We have a country to run and should spend as little time as possible pointing fingers as to who should have closed the barn door long after the horse has hightailed it down the road.

    Inauguration Day Can't Come Quickly Enough!

    December 12, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. Phil in KC

    Surely, even Blagojevich can read the handwriting on the wall. I've heard he's using the governorship as a bargaining chit, but he should do what's right for the people of Illinois and resign. I guess that has never motivated him before, though.

    December 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  14. Mike

    I have a question about technicalities.... what is the legal reason being cited in the articles of impeachment? Since he is presumed innocent until found guilty, they cannot yet cite a proven crime. Can they just impeach on the basis of lost confidence in his leadership? On the view that he is "unfit to serve"?

    This question is not being asked out of any support for Blagojevich, I think he needs to go ASAP. I was just wondering about the legal aspects of this.

    December 12, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  15. Stepping up to the plate

    I am so glad to read that the Democratic leadership in Illinois is stepping up to the plate. The governor needs to either step down or be forced out. Our country is in such a terrible situation now that wasting time on someone who is so self absorbed is not where we need the attention to be on at this time.

    God Bless the United States of America!

    December 12, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  16. George Bush

    Gov. Blagojevich's approval rating is at 8%.


    December 12, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  17. Jeanne Bean

    This governor has shown on all levels just how stupid he is. Choice of wives, corruption, and now not stepping down. Get rid of him.

    Sad thing is, there's a lot of this corruption. He's so stupid he got caught. It's time to really crack down on this crap–swiftly and brutally.

    Sarah Palin and her husband are another example. Their time will come too.

    December 12, 2008 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  18. Question

    Where are candidates 1, 2, 3, and 4? Just thought I'd ask.

    December 12, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  19. Ernie

    Watch out Mr. Obama. Your name just might come up.

    December 12, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  20. Bryan Kesterson

    It's not that he needs to be impeached because Illinois needs effective leadership in a time of crisis. He needs to be impeached because what he did was wrong and illegal. The fact that this is even a question is proof that Bush should have been impeached. If accountability only occurs when it is politically expedient for other reasons, then there is no accountability.

    December 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  21. david

    blago should be out on his behind, like yesterday. the lieutenant governor can take blago's place right away. the legislature should not hesitate to toss him out and quickly before they themselves look like they are part of blago's scam.

    December 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Phoenix

    Here's my problem, the media (controlled by right wing nuts), was so busy trying to make another non-existent tie between Obama and Blagojevich, until it was reported in Illinois that his lawyer may have found a loop hole to exonorate him of criminal wrong doing. We need to stop letting our hate of Obama blind us to the real wrong that is going on. Now, here it is, Blagojevich could walk free because the focus shifted from the proven criminal to speculation.

    December 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  23. AdamW

    He should be impeached for that hair dye job alone. This guy is a crook and a disgrace. But a typical politician it seems.

    December 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. Bubba

    Aw, I thought this would be about Bush. Impeach Blagojevich's toupee – it's the real villain!

    December 12, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  25. Tim

    Gov. Rod Blagojevich should be immediately impeached and if found guilty should go straight to jail!!!

    December 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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