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. Lee D

    Impeachment, the sooner the better!

    December 12, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  2. T_Head


    Logically, If Obama and Blago are connected because they are from Chicago, shouldn't Palin and Stevens be connected because they are from Alaska?

    December 12, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. proudliberal-independent

    i say, put him on a bus with senate republicans, and ship their unamerican arses to alaska.

    December 12, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Samuel Margolies

    Impeach the guy already and get him out of the news. He is repugnant.

    December 12, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. dede-ole

    time to rid off such terrible folks in our govt. no wonder we are in such shape as a nation.usa deserves better. with Obama and good folks around him things will get better.God bless the usa.

    December 12, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. Jess

    In response to Mike's question:

    Impeachment is essentially a trial conducted by a legislative body for the purpose of removing someone form office. It's independent of any criminal trial in a court. It's also a little vague about when someone can be impeached, but it usually follows a criminal indictment of some sort (but not always – take Bill Clinton's case!).

    The scary thing is, even if Blagojevich gets sent to jail, he can still technically be the governor – and thus would be eligible to appoint a new Senator (or do anything else within his power) from his cell! Unless he resigns (which he hopefully will), the only way to strip him of his power outside of a court of law is to impeach him.

    December 12, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Palmer

    Blago is not the only corrupt politician in Chicago. Richard learned the game from his old man and he is just as dirty as Blago. Everyone in this city knows that you don't get anything done withouth paying off the mayor or an alderman or the CPD.... Blago's mistake is he got caught. Obama and his group will talk about change until Blago is removed from office, but what steps will he take to clean up the rest of the crooked politicians in Chicago?

    December 12, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. Phil in KC

    Circulating a letter?? Good grief! All they have to do is put forth the motion. Who in the Illinois legislature would be stupid enough to stand up and oppose it?

    December 12, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. kenny cole

    Tina or what do you call your name,what can obama do or say to you for you to stop hating on him? you need to get over it this is your pres. either you like it or not,if you have nothing good to say shut up your f mouth and computer too fooooool

    December 12, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. kelly WI

    Its called the Chicago machine. Rahm, Obama, Rezko, Rod etc. Of course Obama will say he was no part of it and didn't know about it, just like he didn't know about Ayres, Wright, etc. And of course the demmys will believe him because they want to.

    December 12, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Godluvr

    To Tina, the Republican or PUMA-ite:

    Stop the low-end drama of name-calling!

    Don't mean to rain on your parade of bitter self-righteousness, but remember the swiftboating, lying, cheating, despicable campaign that resulted in a huge loss for you-know-who? Living in a city where crime is committed doesn’t make everyone there a criminal. Lest you forget, let me remind you:

    The Bush Era: A Legacy of Crime and Corruption

    1. Karl Rove (swiftboat king and then some)
    2. ‘Scooter' Libbey (perjury)
    3. Tom Delay (money laundering)
    4. Mark Foley (House Pages)
    5. Alberto Gonzales (inappropriate conduct)
    6. Dusty Foggo Executive Director/CIA/3rd in power (money
    laundering, conspiracy-plea bargained to serve nmt 3 years)
    7. Claude Allen (WH Advisor-caught shoplifting)
    8. Armstrong Williams (paid propagandist)
    9. Rep. Bob Fries (conspiracy and false statements)
    10. Larry Craig (restroom/toe-tapping)
    11. Ted Stevens (Alaska)
    12. President Bush/VP Cheney (waged a fraudulent war)
    And on and on and on…..

    December 12, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. Deirdre Glascoe

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Why impeach someone before he has been tried and proven guilty? This country is going to the dogs.

    December 12, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  13. Sherrol in Canada

    Glad to hear it, move on that impeachment ASAP.........

    I'm dying to find out what Pres-elect Obama will present regarding who on his team has dealings with Blago and what transpired.

    Rham Emanuel's name is being thrown around. MSNBC said this morning Rham's name was mentioned several times in the document.

    December 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Rob Stumpf

    There's ZERO evidence of anything untoward on Obama's part with respect to this crook.<<<

    There is LOTS of evidence that Obama was in bed with Tony Rezko and the rest of the dirty Chicago machine all of these years....since you are ignoring that, why should anyone believe you that Obama has nothing to do with this?

    December 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Nicholas

    I am a Chicagoan and quite frankly, had this thing not gone national, Blago's behavior would be considered acceptable by most Illinoians. Our politicians are corrupt and we accept that. We accept that things get done because people get paid. 25 years from now, Chicago politicians will be doing the same thing that they are doing today. Corruption is a part of our culture.

    December 12, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Joe Fattal

    Answering Mike's comments on December 12th . The legal aspects of this election as a whole is questionable. To begin with the issue of Obama's native born status, by the constitution he is not a native-born citizen. The legality of hiring Hillary as the secretary state. And now the Governor of chicago.

    December 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Peggy


    YOU MUST BE IN YOUR 60'S OR 70S' FULL OF the old time stuff

    December 12, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  18. DWoods

    the sooner the BETTER!

    December 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  19. Joe

    @ Tina – what part of the sludge bucket do you occupy?? LOL!

    December 12, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  20. kara

    Go Blago and take Barry, Harry, Nancy and Barney with you!

    December 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Rob Stumpf

    If accountability only occurs when it is politically expedient for other reasons, then there is no accountability.<<<

    That's nonsense. Committing to a politically unpopular policy is not grounds for impeachment....if that were the case, every single President could have been impeached. Bush committed no crime, that's the main reason nothing happened to him. If you don't like the job a politician is doing, don't vote for him, but don't try to use impeachment to overturn the will of the majority. Bush won the 2004 election and served, just like Barry won this election and will get his chance.

    The whole "Bush impeachment" thing was a total fantasy from the beginning. It was never going to happen, obviously.

    December 12, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Roger from CA

    I just wonder: what POSSIBLE resistence could there be to voting for impeachment? I would think that would be political suicide. I'd expect a 100% vote in favor, with no significant debate.

    December 12, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. Rob Stumpf

    The American people get exactly what they deserve. Chicago political corruption has been an open secret for about 100 years now. The voters in that city constantly elect the corrupt Democratic machine, KNOWING it's corrupt. They know, but some still whine when the crooks they put into power get caught. Tough. If you are a voter, and don't like the person who is your governor....look in the mirror.

    December 12, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. Michael

    Republicans are just mad as corruption is their forte.

    December 12, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. bertha doucet

    I think that the state house should leave well enough along,If gov blagojevich is impeached,he will bring a lots of people down with him, obama ,,jessie, david axslrod and obama"s chief staff ,emanueal!!!! Houston Tex.

    December 12, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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