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. Don

    I am an Illinois democrat and I am all for impeaching the governor. What he and his wife did is very un-American. Our politicians need to realize that civil service is an honor and they need to be humble enough to realize that they don't rule us, but instead, they ANSWER to us.

    I say, impeach Blago, and hold special elections for a new governor.

    December 12, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. TexasAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    Okay, I'm sure NO fan of this guy and based on the indictment, he does sound guilty as sin. BUT, there seems to be such a rush to judgment here. What happened to the old "innocent until proven guilty" thing? Nobody rushed to impeach Ted Stevens from Alaska or Jefferson from Louisiana.
    It would be nice if Blagojevich would just step down & resign. But either 1) he thinks he's innocent and the case against him won't hold water, or 2) he really does have a case of terminal ego & thinks his ** don't stink.
    No matter what the case or the outcome, a Senate seat should never be an item to be sold or bartered. Hopefully this instance will send a cold clear message to the powers that be in the other 49 states.

    December 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Truth

    Lets get this guy and then Cheney and Bush.

    December 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. Funny Business

    Obama as a senator, representing Illinois, and he is not aware of anything going on with the governor of the state, or the corrupt state of the state. He is very much part of the politics and wellfare of the people and government of the state of Illinois. So, how can he lead the nation, and control all those who will work for him, and the world?

    December 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. CT watcher

    Funny to see all these Chicago politicians who are part of the same crooked system are so "outraged". Emmys anyone?

    December 12, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. Dave in Atlanta

    @Mike. There is some precedent for impeaching someone based on lost confidence in their leadership. Remember that Nixon hadn't been convicted of any crime when they were preparing to impeach him. Andrew Johnson also hadn't been charged with any crime when he was impeached.

    December 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. SOL

    As a Republican I am dismayed that the legislator is going for impeachment proceeding without hearing the govoners version. this country was found ,that you do not believe the goverment unless he brings proof.

    December 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  8. Mike in Texas

    This trail of corruption will begin in Chicago and end whereever Obama happens to be sitting.

    December 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. Kid Midnight

    Using public office for private enrichment is absolutely unacceptable. It deserves impeachment and removal from the governor's office, followed by criminal prosecution and the longest prison sentence and largest fine allowed by law.

    I propose a policy of zero tolerance for any governmental hanky-panky. Take a bribe, offer a bribe, fix an election, sell an office, or other subversion of our sacred democratic principles and go to jail. For a long time. This man has done more harm to our democracy than Osama bin Ladens chauffeur, that's for sure.

    December 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. CIA

    Watch out, Ernie. YOUR name might just come up.

    December 12, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  11. clifford

    Phoenix: Media controlled by "RIGHT WING" nuts??!! What planet are you on? Right now the LIBERAL MEDIA is circleing the wagons defending Obama as they ALWAYS have!!

    December 12, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Senate Candidate 13

    Ohhh... I can't wait until he makes a deal... brings down the whole Chicago Machine... that and now that Rezko doesn't have a governor in his pocket he could spill the truth too... I don't care how much Obama man love there is out there... I would like to know why Rezko gave him a half million dollar piece of land... cause if you think it was out of the goodness of his heart.... well... no help for you. Rezko's name is mentioned over 100 times in the FBI brief... him and Blago are wrapped up together all over the place... and that's going to be the Obama connection... that and Axelrod stating Obama had in-depth discussion with Blago on the Senate seat... then changing his mind after the arrest... either they are stupid, lying, or both.

    This is gonna be great... and it isn't close to over... great way to start a term.

    December 12, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Monrob

    No words to describe this man; get him out. White trash.

    December 12, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Kirsten

    Seriously Phoenix? The media is controlled by the right? I don't know what rock you've been living under, but with the exception of Fox News, the media is definitely NOT controlled by the Right.

    December 12, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Jordan

    I completely agree that Blagojevich absolutely cannot continue to serve office as Governor. That said, I find it interesting that nobody says anything about the fact that Caroline Kennedy may take Hillary Clinton's seat simply by virtue of her last name (as if that, in and of itself, is a qualification). Is that really any worse logic then paying for the seat? Let's go MEDIA – at least raise the discussion!

    December 12, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. Sam

    Impeach him for what? Being true to himself and his country?
    Gov B is one of the best things to happen to Illinois. God bless him!

    December 12, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Matt: honestly

    It is so funny seeing people try to tie Obama to this when investigative news can't even do it. The only thing that there is anything connected to is it is Obama's old senate seat in IL that Blago was trying to sell. You right wingers just want something to stew over at the water cooler.

    December 12, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Yep! It's long past time for this clown to be shown the door.

    Hit the road, Rod......and don't go away mad, just go away!

    December 12, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. Not Surprised in Illinois

    After having been a life long resident and long time business owner in Illinois I hope that the culture of corruption on both sides of the political isle will finally be broken.

    People outside of the State don't know exactly how corrupt this place is. As a former golden glvoes boxer I think Blago got punched in the head too many times. I hope he gets thrown out immediately!

    December 12, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  20. An American

    He should go for sure. I wonder if he goes if he will start talking about other politicians involved – you know when one gets caught they all of a sudden become very mouthy about other peoples rolls. We shall see.

    December 12, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. Jim in Orlando

    How dumb are Democrats ? Look at a few of the above posts that equate Bozo's actions to reasons Bush and Palin should have been or soon should be impeached ... LOL

    Kudos to those who just think Bozo Blago needs to go from Statehouse to the Jailhouse in the express paddywagon. Neither party has exclusive ownership of corrupt politicians, so get over it Dems.

    December 12, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. Enough Already

    Hey All Repubs

    The election is OVER.. get over it! Trying to tie Mr Obama with everything that went wrong isn't working. Direct your energy to 2016 and quit crying;;; please

    December 12, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. cindym507

    Are the people of Ill calling and emailing his office demanding his resignamtion? If not they should be! He's a disgrace and needs to know what the taxpayers think of him! Sometimes these guys are so dillusional they think they are actually invincable and this will all blow over if they hold out long enough. Make him leave- today!

    December 12, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Fred

    In China, they execute corrupt politicians and CEO's.
    Here, they go to resort jail for a few years and write a book.
    I think we need something in between.

    December 12, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  25. Jim

    Bryan, this bears no relation to that. The "impeachment" movement against Bush, which was solely driven by the extreme left of the Democratic Party for political reasons. So extreme, in fact, and so blatantly political, that even Nancy Pelosi was unwilling to consider the idea when she became Speaker.

    The impeachment movement against the Governor is based on actual crimes, for which he was arrested, and is supported by members of both parties in the Illinois Legislature, and most of the legislative leadership.

    Impeachment at the federal level may not be done for political reasons; it may only be done for "high crimes and misdemeanors", which you have to prove before a trial in the Senate. Remember that whole thing with Clinton? This is how justice works in America. You don't get to remove people from office or put people in jail just because you disagree with their stupid policies.

    December 12, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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