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Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2008

IMPEACHMENT PROGRESSES, BLAGOJEVICH LAWYERS UP.... Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) did not resign yesterday, as had been rumored over the weekend. Lawmakers in the state House responded by voting to begin impeachment efforts against the governor. The vote was 113 to 0.

Michael J. Madigan, the powerful House speaker in a capital where Democrats control both the House and Senate, appointed a committee that will begin gathering evidence and testimony on Tuesday in an "abuse of power" case against Mr. Blagojevich. [...]

"We're going to proceed with all due speed, but we are going to make sure that what we do is done correctly," said Mr. Madigan, who like many others in state government has long sparred with Mr. Blagojevich and has fielded calls for Mr. Blagojevich's impeachment long before now.

Blagojevich's future is obviously bleak, but the road ahead for Illinois officials is unclear. Impeachment is a lengthy process, and the 21-member special impeachment committee is already drawing complaints from Republicans, who were "furious" because they want the panel to have "equal representation from both parties." (With two parties and 21 members, I'm not sure how that's possible.)

The question of a special election is also still lingering. GOP officials in Illinois and Washington are anxious to have one (because they want to try to win the seat), and Blagojevich is nearly as excited about the possibility (because he believes it would buy him some time).

But even this option became more complicated yesterday when county clerks in Illinois explained that a statewide special election would cost up to $50 million, and the state simply can't afford that right now. It would be cheaper if the state could wait until April 7, when Illinois would hold already-scheduled local elections, but that would leave the state with a Senate vacancy for four months -- in the midst of some very important votes in Congress.

With this in mind, state lawmakers adjourned last night without even considering the special election issue, to the dismay of Illinois Republicans.

For his part, Blagojevich has reportedly hired Chicago defense attorney Ed Genson to represent him in this mess. Stay tuned.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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If Republicans want equal representation on Illinois House committees maybe they should win an equal number of elections as Democrats.

"Elections have consequences."

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on December 16, 2008 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Why would impeachment be a lengthy process? In the State House, a bill of impeachment could be passed this afternoon by simple majority vote. Similarly, in the State Senate, they could find the Governor "guilty" and remove him from office on unanimous vote without having the need to "try" him for his offenses. Blago could be gone today.

However, such an outcome would require something lacking in all Illinois politicians, especially the Dems in control of both Houses in Springfield, balls. So I don't see it happening.

Posted by: Chicounsel on December 16, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Blago is out-of-touch with reality as Bush is. If he holds a spark of credibility, he would resign.

Posted by: sduffys on December 16, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I think there's a striking contrast here. Throughout the past 8 years, every time new facts have come to light which would seem to prove that Bush had committed an impeachable offense (you can provide your own list), the national Republicans circled the wagons, and minority Democrats were too timid to raise much of a fuss.

Compare that to the situation in Illinois, where Blagojevich has clearly committed an impeachable offense (though arguably not as bad as *many* of the things Bush has done), and the Democrats in the Illinois legislature vote unanimously for impeachment, with no foot-dragging whatsoever.

This would be an example of putting the good of the state above partisan politics, something Republicans would do well to emulate.

Posted by: David Bailey on December 16, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Blagojevich's future is obviously bleak, but the road ahead for Illinois officials is unclear. Impeachment is a lengthy process, and the 21-member special impeachment committee is already drawing complaints from Republicans, who were "furious" because they want the panel to have "equal representation from both parties." (With two parties and 21 members, I'm not sure how that's possible.)

I think the point here is that 21 is not written in stone and that 21 was picked to make sure there wasn't equal representation. I just googled the Illinois State Constitution and I do not see anything about a '21' member special committee attached to the articles of impeachment. Just more politics apparently. Illinois does seem like a real slimy place, politically speaking of course.

Posted by: Mick on December 16, 2008 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Madigan insisted this AM(MSNBC, to Norah O'Donnell) that he has always been a vocal element in getting Blagojevich out of there and the Republicans who are now so 'gung ho' for a special election now have undermined his efforts for many years. (In other words, he finds their sudden interest in a special election very interesting). He added that while he has always been very pro-election and has nothing against elections per se--he nonetheless finds that to spend about 35K for a two year special election is not indicated. But he left the prospect open nonetheless.

Posted by: Madigan speaks out on December 16, 2008 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

A mob feeding frenzy. Don't know that Blago isn't doing what they all do. "Selling" a senate seat for a large campaign contribution, for ex. Obama came to my billionaire boss at his business early in his campaign. Had the private meeting been wiretapped, it probably would have involved a delicate proffer of a quo in exchange for a quid. Don't they all do more or less the same thing. A matter of degree. Don't many of them end up in high paying lobbyists jobs or on boards?

Posted by: Luther on December 16, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Did Madigan mention that the reason he's always been for impeachment and/or vocal against Blago is because he has finessed the situation for his daughter to become the next governor (just like the job she has now)? Yeah, he must have forgotten to mention that.

Posted by: Julene on December 16, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

No special elections. In case you haven't noticed, Dems haven't done well in the runoffs and special elections. The Repugs will pour tons of money into the race and disinterested voters will hand it to the motivated Repugs.

I thought that when a seat is vacated it had to be filled my a member of the same party, since that is what voters intended. What happened to the option of allowing the Lt. Gov. name the replacement?

Posted by: Always Hopeful on December 16, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

According to some sources the fact that the investigation was not completed due to early exposure might mean that the case against Blago is either tainted or much weaker. It is possible that since he was never given a chance to actually sell the seat for cash or other illegal enolouments that he never committed a crime unless bad language and stupidity constitutes a crime. The only other charge would be conspiracy and if FitzGerald turns Harris he might have a case.

For example, where in the charges is the evidence that an actual bribe took place? Could not a lot of the evidence also be interpreted as political business as usual as mentioned above? Why should he resign at this point as he is still in power as Governor and could name a new Senator today?

I think we are going to see Illinois without a Senator for four months.

Posted by: mikeyes on December 16, 2008 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone explain to me what "lawyers up" means and why it is supposed to be automatically bad? Seems to me that if one believed one were unjustly accused of a crime one would retain a lawyer to defend one's innocence and honor. Those who share my political beliefs "defend our honor and integrity"; those with differing political beliefs "laywer up"?

Posted by: Not Really on December 16, 2008 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

SECTION 5. SESSIONS states that

(b) The Governor may convene the General Assembly or the
Senate alone in special session by a proclamation stating the
purpose of the session; and only business encompassed by such
purpose, together with any impeachments or confirmation of
appointments shall be transacted. Special sessions of the
General Assembly may also be convened by joint proclamation
of the presiding officers of both houses, issued as provided
By law.

Here the Governor Blagojevich could have already done this, which is proposed convening sessions that might include creating a blue ribbon panel of his political party to pick the Senator.

But those involve if proved stubborn not agreeable or just plane obstruction able to such a deal, as in trading for money whats is in it for them, are proven to be those that want to impeach Blagojevich, could very well jeopardizes their own positions, such the Speaker of the House, or the Attorney general.

This is exactly what the Republican Party needs, Blagojevich and his lawyer to do the work for them, that is to bust up the Democratic control. We will know for sure when Sarah Palin finds out that Alaska is O.K. but to move to Illinois is real star power. Yikes…

The push back is there in Alaska someone burned up Palin’s church of pray surely a flag of discontent. The funny thing is big cable news on that Reverend and what might have transpired in his ministry as compared to Reverend Wright.

Just as shoes are flung at our President Bush. Say what you will if it was Bill Clinton he would be razed through out with public media abuse all over his political career coupled with the adultery action with Monica Lewinsky.

Here, America has Bush and Company who openly will walk away after destroying three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, and America, the rights in the Constitution, failed International agreements with a severe dent into the world’s deepest recession, all with Mainstream Media support.

If the media continues its path to support Bush and company it is likely Americans will sink into the abyss of economic turmoil for a long time. Long enough for Jeb bush to re-appear. Perhaps America should nick name Jeb; Jeb “Chit’s” Bush. Like Chris Mathews says Jeb Chit’s Bush is a formidably candidate for the Florida Senate. And we argue about the most corrupt state being Illinois. Please ladies and gentlemen, having the U.S. Supreme Court in your pocket to stop vote counting is the mother of all corruption.

Posted by: Megalomania on December 17, 2008 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK



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