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)

    If you actually looked into this you know that Blago and Obama did not like each other at all. The GOP is just grasping at straws to get something on Obama, so far no luck.

    December 12, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    For me, the larger question is why Blagojevich has remained in office for so long. It appears from what I've read that he has been suspect for years. . .yet he got away with this. If all he is being accused of is true, this will be a sad commentary about Illinois voters and those who surrounded the governor.

    December 12, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Denise Groves

    Blaggy, Stevens, Jefferson, Simpson, Kilpatrick. These men must have all attended the school of me,me, me, me, me,me. They are selfish, arrogant, conceited and self centered. So much for doing what is right for your constituents or family.

    December 12, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Karen

    This scum ought to be out of office by TODAY, not tomorrow or in a few weeks. He could be placed on "paid leave" until the situation is "resolved", and should not be allowed access to his office. Keep track of documents being shredded even as I speak!

    December 12, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Proud to be American

    Buh, bye Blagojevich you are a slime ball and a disgrace to my wonderful country how dare you..... yes you too must go, perhaps straight to jail with no bail.

    December 12, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. Ken H.

    I just love how Sarah Palin keeps in the news by the hate mongers. This woman really scares some folks to continue the unwarranted attacks. Alaska is a long way from Chicago style politics.

    December 12, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Chester Davis

    I think that we as a people of the United Sates are getting real sick of how this country is begining run. If it not one thing it is something else. Are county is going down the drain real fast. The only good new is that oil and gas is dropping. The hard working people of this country want to know that they can trust the goverment. Well from what I have seen this year, when are we going to see a goverment that works for the people?

    December 12, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Mary from Sarasota FL

    Tina... just go home... Repug.

    December 12, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  9. Matt

    @ Tina

    You and the rest of the wishful thinking conspiracy theorists need to grow up. There's ZERO evidence of anything untoward on Obama's part with respect to this crook. Moreover, there is ample evidence that Blagojevich was borderline psychotic precisely because Obama was refusing to play his crooked game. Your nonsense is like an American car...nobody's buying.

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Scott NYC Independent

    Well one thing we know for sure he is just like Larry Craig in one way – he doesn't seem to understand when the jig is up. His career is over and he has to step down or be put down; there are no more options.

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Send him to Alaska where he'll find great company with Sarah Palin and her husband.

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Dallas, TX

    Just another crook from O's hometown...ah the company we keep!

    December 12, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Franky

    You know, since we are talking about bailouts and who deserves to go bankrupt and so forth, that's what we should do to our Gov. If there's anyone who should explain himself is him and if there's anyone who deserves crap is this guy and let him start from the bottom...

    Just like the automakers, I want our Gov to give some accountability. But this time, he's the one who's gonna bankrupt and start from the bottom.

    And no, I don't want no spokepersons to speak on behalf of my Gov. What, what are they, huh? Spokepersons for corruption?? Sooner or later, the Gov is gonna have to say something but this time, he ain't going nowhere...

    December 12, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. John from LA

    @ Matt-

    What kind of Novice are you????-You'll soon change your tune when you realize that Mr. Pres-elect knew something-the question you should be asking of your pres. is....."Why do we keep hearing your name involved with dirty people?"

    Matt-you're probably new to the world of politics-in fact you can tell you are-BO stinks!-the sooner you realize this the better you'll understand American politics

    Go back to your ipod and video game!

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

    Chicagogate is only the beginning. Only time can tell, as human nature is imperfect and sinful. Glad the president-elect is a devout Christian, a regular churchgoer, with absolute moral standards, absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love.

    December 12, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. Byron in Minneapolis

    Let me paraphrase a quote recorded from Blago referring to Obama, as read by US Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald–
    "That motherf**ker won't give me anything but apprecaition, F**K him!"
    Oh yeah, they sound like their totally in cahoots. Good call.

    December 12, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Get over it

    I'm shocked!!! Impeachment of the Govenor of Illinois???

    He was just practicing NORMAL Chicago politics.

    December 12, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. President Obama

    It took way too long for this to happen.

    December 12, 2008 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. California Gold

    He's still trying to cut deals: always a quid pro quo to shake out of life's reversals. Once he starts singing the FBI will have to slap him to shut him up.

    December 12, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Beth

    Get this guy as far away from public office as possible. What a disgaceful public figure. Unfortunately he's taking down innocent victims with him.

    December 12, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Dennis

    The Justice Department should refuse to negotiate any plea deals with this scumbag. Put him on trial just as soon as possible, and if he's convicted, sentence him for a long term and place him in a regular prison (not one of those so-called "white collar" prisons). I really believe that what these crooked politicians and crooked financiers are doing to this country is treasoness. Perhaps they shouid be incarcerated in Gitmo along with the rest of the "terrorists".

    December 12, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. Jeff in Illinois

    I want Patrick Fitzgerald to be our next governor. We pay some of the highest taxes in the country (between property tax, income tax, and an oppressive sales tax which is over 10% in Cook County), and yet, we have horrible roads and all of our TOLLWAYS are in a constant state of gridlock.

    With the money we pay to the state of Illinois, and have been for decades, through Republican and Democrat governors and congressmen, we should have one of the best-run states in the union.

    Someone needs to root out the corruption for real. Clearly define what "corruption" is in government, then make it a mandatory 50 year sentence for each count. There needs to be some serious deterrence. Corrupt officials should be treated much, much worse than crack addicts.

    December 12, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. T_Head

    Blago said, from his own mouth, that the only thing OBAMA would give is APPRECIATION. It was recorded by the FEDS, they have no indication that Obama is involved....

    December 12, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Randy, Indiana

    Looks like Blagojevich and his old buddy George Ryan might be sharing the same jail cell.

    December 12, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  25. Peggy from IA

    At CNN Home page when I saw Impeachment Efforts I was hoping it was Bush & Cheney. Dang!

    December 12, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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