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

Illinois Democratic lawmakers begin impeachment effort for gov

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/10/illinois.governor/art.gov.gi.jpg" 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. Swampy

    Mike @ 9:18 am

    The Illinois Consitution (Article 14.) does not define what acts may be found impeachable offenses, so presumably the legislature can set its own standards without a criminal conviction, and the Illinois Senate can remove a sitting Governor who has not yet been convicted, or even indicted, just as one can be fired from a job without the employer meeting a courtroom standard of proof of wrongdoing.

    December 12, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Amy

    Hey Tina– You're ignorance is astounding.

    December 12, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. Independent

    Mike: Impeachment just means they are charging him with the crime(s). It's up the Senate to hold a trial and see if he is guilty.

    December 12, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. sglman4Obama

    Blago is an arrogant SOB he will do nicely in a cell next to Bush and prison wife Cheyney

    December 12, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Indiana voter

    @ Matt

    You are right, there is no evidence of Obama in the current, but that doesn't mean that anyone can't be named later on. It is an ongoing investigation. I think, knowing that the govenor is looking out for himself, he will try to bring as many people down with him as possible, by naming names. We will see where all this leads. The question is: what did Obama and his team know about it and for how long. I think those answers will come out. Obama is about change alright. He's the first Pres-Elect being surrounded with controversy BEFORE he gets into office. Amazing.

    December 12, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Marc

    Unless something absolutely unbelievable, like strong evidences that the transcripts in the charge are fake or 'conviniently' edited, arises, Blago is toast.
    True, let's follow the law and give him all the rights to defend himself in a court that he, as everybody else in the world, has.
    It's not something that can be done in a week, in two or in amonth, it takes a while for the things be properly done.
    But HE IS PAST HIS TIME.
    PS: According to the mentioned above transcripts, BHO DID NOT WANTED TO TAKE PART ON THE OBSCENE SCHEM REVEALED BY THE FBI. Show me ONE president that never ever repayed a favor (like hipotetically nominate one of his allies to a vacant seat in the Senate) with another favor (like a seat in a branch of the Executive)?
    Hey THIS is politics...
    What Blago wanted to do, and BHO refused to the point of having obscenities bashed at him by Blago, IS ILLEGAL.
    Stop trying to 'find' the connections that doesn't exist, please...

    December 12, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  7. James G. chicago.

    why is that Gov, Blagoevich only had to pay $4,500 to post bond after the prosecutor got on TV, and stated all the information and what they got on wiretaps, but an NFL football player who accidentally shot himself had to pay a $50,000 bond? should'nt it be the opposite? can anyone on her explain this to me?

    December 12, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. Karen - Missouri

    Apparently they have enough evidence for impeachment. The governor should step down or further prove he is only out for how much money he can milk out of this. Another day and time, he might have gotten away with all this...but citizens are very involved in government watching right now...Blag will never be able to govern...period.

    December 12, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Tina December 12th, 2008 10:29 am ET

    As always Obama will say …oh I did not know or I did not hear that guy like he did to Rev Wright, Tony Rezko, and Bill Ayer …..LOL!
    -------------–
    I think he's telling the truth. The FBI has been bugging this guy's phones and offices for months, and can't connect Obama's people, or Jesse Jackson Jr. to this.

    December 12, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Justin

    To blindly implicate Barak Obama into this scandal just because he represented the same state and belongs to the same party as Rod Blagojevich is as ridiculous as blindly implicating Sarah Palin with Ted Stevens ...

    If Rod Blagojevich did in fact commit these crimes (I believe he did, but he hasn't been convicted yet) I do not believe he did it because of his political or regional affiliation. He did it because he is a corrupt politician with an over-inflated ego.

    December 12, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Mr Magoo

    Tina..BTW every Tina I have ever known have been bimbos thanks for keeping the streak alive.

    Corruption in politics has been around forever. Obama was forced to maneuver through this environment and racism to achieve everything he has today. PE Obama is not the cause of all the wrong that goes on in the country he has succeeded in spite of it.

    December 12, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Blago and companies

    He used to be in great company with great politicians like Barack Obama. Bad influence.

    December 12, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. Love My USA/Do You?

    Where the is smoke there is fire.... The USA is going up in a full blaze.
    LIES, PROAGANDA, CORRUPTION, ETC.
    TIME FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO KNOW WHO THEY ARE VOTING, BY CHECKING WHO IS BEHIND THE SCEN PULLING THE STRINGS...
    SHAME WE DIDN'T DO THAT WITH BO..

    December 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Eleanor

    its downright ridiculous to link all chicago politicians with this crook
    Bc they are from chicago it only stands to reason they will cross paths
    and brush arms and speak but that doesnt mean the media or anyone else has the right to say bc some are crooks they all are!!
    what about Dick durrban and others
    Sorry but you have to have the brains to realize you cant make a blanket statement that they are all crooks

    December 12, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. rusell

    FUNNY THING IS THAT MANY AMERICANS ARE QUICK TO TRY AND TIE OBAMA TO THIS SLIMBALL , WHY?.MOST OF YOU JUST STOOD THEIR WITH YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS WHILE BUSH AND CHANEY RAN THIS COUNTRY INTO THE GROUND , BUT PEOPLE LIKE CAMPBELL BROWN ARE ALL WAYS PUSHING FOR OBAMA TO EXPLAIN MORE OF HIMSELF , BUT WAIT , DID SHE DO THE SAME TO BUSH AND CHANEY , JUST GOES TO SHOW YOU THAT IF YOUR BLACK NO MATTER WHAT POSITION YOU HOLD YOU HAVE PEOPLE WITH THE UNCONCIOUS RACIST AGENDA JUST BECAUSE HE'S BLACK, HAS ANYONE ASKED BUSH WHY HE LIED TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT WMD'S ........NO! I DO THINK THE DID .

    December 12, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. Bill in California

    I feel SO much more secure now that those underhanded Republican crooks are history.

    December 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. gina the Banker

    Please ,Let people know .He is a Serb and they are THIEFS

    December 12, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Toby

    Just a tip of the iceberg.

    Las Vegas is another system that needs help.

    December 12, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. karen-phoenix

    Obama has disliked Blago from the beginning and has distanced himself for the entire time he worked for Illinois. Obama did not even give Blago a speaking part at the Dem Convention. Obama NEVER liked Blago's kind of politics. Remember, Obama was not brought up in Chicago. He was brought up in Hawaii with dreams and visions of trueth and honesty.

    December 12, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Peter (CA)

    The guy should be out but Mike asks a great question....what do you impeach him on? There were some attorneys on last night who were saying the charges may not stick since no money changed hands!
    So, he may be in office two more years as he obviously does not care what evidence there may be. For those of you old enough to remember, this was what is was like in 1974 waiting on Nixon to resign.

    The bright spot is that the Senate can turn down who he appoints. But, I would think that no self-respecting person would accept a nomination from this clown. But, then again, they are politicians....

    December 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Joe

    The governor could have sold the chair. It probably could be worth some money some day.

    December 12, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Jose S

    It's disgusting how both you Republican and Democrat Kool-aid drinkers try and divert the scandals on one another. When are you all going to wise up that the Democrats and Republicans are virtually the same? It is almost hilarious how similar both are. For example, just look at the recent bail outs. The stumbling Bush and the Democratic controlled congress could not wait to throw away 700 billion dollars of money that the USA does not have. Stop voting and supporting these corrupt yahoos.

    December 12, 2008 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. jan

    let morality begin in America and people actually held accountable to their actions!!

    December 12, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Hold on to your hats!

    Once Blago is impeached he might be P.Oed enough to really talk.
    Which could be very interesting.
    Obama worked very hard to get him elected .
    They share the same campaign manager.
    Chicago politics are about as low as you can go in the political hemisphere.
    You can't play in the mud and not get DIRTY!

    December 12, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. Deborah Treadway

    Don't you think that after 5 years of investigating and wiretaps by the FBI, if Obama was involved in any way, it would have shown up? Instead, Blagojevich is heard cussing him and his team out because they want to be honest, and not "play ball." You do the math.

    December 12, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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