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)

    Valerie Jarret was one of the Senators 1 2 3 or 4

    December 12, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Mike December 12th, 2008 9:18 am ET

    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"?
    Impeachment isn't based on crimes that he was convicted of. It is based on crimes he was accused of. What he's accused of is solicitation of bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.

    December 12, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. LIP

    There is nothing anyone can do until criminal proceedings have finished with him. No proceedings, no crime. More than likely, his lawyer and he have discussed this. The shame of it is that because this just happens to be Illinois and Obama's Senate seat, this stain is on Obama's character. It doesn't belong there and comes at a very inopportune time when inaugeration is just weeks away.
    Blagojevitch needs to see this for what it is and do the honorable thing even though honor may not be part of his vocabulary, and step down on his own.

    December 12, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Joe Green

    Hey Blogdonavich or whatever...

    Curious George called. He wants his haircut back!

    What's with the hair helmet?

    December 12, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  5. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Yes he should be impeached, but then so should Bush and his henchmen.

    December 12, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |

    Im tired of the right wing haters. So so tired. Palin was often seen with convicted Senator Stevens. While I can not tolerate the woman that doesnt make think she was in cahoots with him. Same thing with Obama, I am sure one of his aides would have spoken to Blagojvech. Why not it was his replacement in the senate. Dont you think in New York there are behind the scenes talks about Caroline Kennedy becoming senator?

    By the way our last conviced Govenor George Ryan is a Republican. We are an equal opportunity corrupt politician state here in Illinois

    December 12, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Jason

    Look, I live in Chicago and corruption is rampant. If Obama really wants change then he should start by sending the justice department in to investigate Richard Daley and the drug dealing and murderous Chicago police dept. There is no such thing as an honest politician in Illinois. They are all dirty.

    December 12, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. obama-mama

    That's right impeach the clown, OFF WITH HIS BANGS...(thought I was going to say head didn't you)

    December 12, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Nick

    Weeks rather than months?

    When they want to get stuff done, they can really get it done. It's like a car salesman. If they have to meet a quota to get a prize or a bonus or something, they'll give you the world to make sure you drive off the lot in a new car that very day.

    Why can't politicians work fast all the time? Think of the work that would get done if they did.

    December 12, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. JL

    I thought we were presumed innocent until proven guilty in this country. So far, Blagojevich is only guilty of being caught on tape using the f-word. This trial by media has got to stop.

    December 12, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. Matt

    String him up by those eyebrows and flog him with a frozen trout.

    December 12, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  12. JLH

    Blago is getting just what he deserves. My question...why hasn't George W. Bush gotten what he deserves too- IMPEACHMENT?!

    December 12, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  13. Derek Rubin

    There's little doubt that impeachment is the name of the game in this scenario; it's necessary to set him as an example to other corrupt politicians out there. Just because you're on top doesn't mean we won't getcha. Now thanks to the glorious effect of the internet, the process of weeding out these weasels is even easier with a well-informed public.

    December 12, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  14. Ed Word

    This idiot must be removed, if he will not go voluntarily.

    And I don't care which party he belongs to – he is unfit to serve, period.

    Fools like this make everyone look bad.

    December 12, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  15. Chris

    Too bad the US Congress doesn't have the same determination and resolve when it comes to the current administration,

    December 12, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Marion

    Mike, my understanding is that impeachment is at the sole discretion of the legislative branch. In other words, a crime does not have to actually be proven to have been committed in order for an elected official to be impeached. A crime is usually alleged, but there does not need to be a conviction, although it's usually pretty difficult to get enough lawmakers to vote for it unless there is a strong case for criminal wrongdoing.

    December 12, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  17. Aidan

    Sad but true. Daley has been in power for years and we all know that he is paid kickbacks. If you want to do business in the city of Chicagom you are going to pay Richard Daley, the alderman whose district you want to do business in and you also have to pay the Chicago police for protection from other chicago police. Bottom line, if you have enough money you can buy any chicago official

    December 12, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Sebastian

    That this laughable moron should spend the next decade or two in prison goes without saying. But why aren't they prosecuting his wife? Clearly a lot of these kickbacks were geared to her benefit, and judging by the tapes that were released she was not only aware of her husband's crimes, but encouraged them in equally brazen and vulgar terms. So why isn't she being charged with some sort of extortion conspiracy against the Chicago Tribune? She wasn't some political Stepford Wife- clearly she has the political and financial background to understand the implications of what they were doing. Kind of a double standard at work. She needs to be charged as well.

    December 12, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  19. Angie-OHIO


    December 12, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. matt

    Blago, you are the lowest level of politician. Good to know that obama is a product of the most corrupt political system in the united states. goes to show you what a democratic controlled government is capable of.

    people always says republicans are the corrupt ones but look at the list of scumbag dems recently. the list will get loner


    December 12, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. China has a good remedy for trash like this man

    Sometimes it pays to follow other country's lead

    December 12, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  22. Mark

    While we're talking about impeachment, let's go after the biggest outlaws of them all; Bush & Chaney.

    December 12, 2008 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Larry

    WE have hired the fox to guard the hen house,every time a chicken disappears the fox doesn't know anything about it.

    December 12, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  24. Veronica

    More power to the IL legislature. Toss this tool, STAT.

    December 12, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. Charles W. Skinner

    Just more Chicago politics as usual. Just wait until you ladies and gentlemen who voted for Sen. Obama get a real good look at the level of corruption that the new President Elect is involved in. Then we can see if it was change for the better, or a more corrupt candidate than we as a country have ever elected.

    The next 2 years will be fun to watch the Democratic Party destroy itself. It will be so entertaining, it should have its own ticket sales and popcorn.

    December 12, 2008 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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