As he marked the anniversary of his arrest, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich today reasserted his innocence by autographing a copy of the U.S. Constitution with his now-infamous catchphrase, “fn golden.”
The indicted politician scrawled the near-profanity on the nation’s most sacred of documents at a book signing on the University of Chicago campus. A student asked Blagojevich to sign near the 17th Amendment — the one dealing with the appointment of U.S. senators. In other words, the very type of seat that federal prosecutors say Blagojevich tried to sell and was allegedly heard describing as “(bleeping) golden” on a wiretap.
“Always remember the rule of law is sacrosanct, nay it is more — it is fn golden,” Blagojevich wrote on the page today. […]
“I’m OK with writing it,” he told reporters. “I did not write the bad word. I abbreviated it.”
When other states get hit with massive, nationally embarrassing corruption scandals, political leaders upend the status quo, throw the bums out and do their level best to ensure it can’t happen again.
In Illinois, state lawmakers have tweaked and twiddled on reform measures, in hopes voters forget what they’re mad about.
Um, they did throw the bum out. Remember that impeachment thingy? Also, as Charlie Wheeler wrote several weeks ago in Illinois Issues, most of the reforms that were approved by the General Assembly focused like a laser on Blagojevich’s many, many transgressions…
Overall, the legislative reaction to the reform suggestions followed the pattern predicted here a couple of months ago. Changes affecting executive branch operations were embraced; those that would upset the legislative status quo were not.
In so choosing, did Democratic leaders and their majorities sustain a culture of corruption? Or was that the rational approach, focusing on eradicating the opportunities for clearly documented illicit activities while ignoring certain aspects of the legislative process that some might not like but are hardly corrupt?
Instead of bemoaning what didn’t happen, naysayers might want to look again and see a glass that’s got more in it than anyone would have believed possible this time last year.
Weakening the legislative leaders is a noble cause, and should be done. But, in this context, would a weak House Speaker have been able to stand in Blagojevich’s way for two years, as Michael Madigan did?
The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) on Wednesday said the campaign contribution limits legislation signed by Gov. Quinn is a significant victory for Illinois voters and should help reduce the influence wielded by big campaign contributors.
Gov. Quinn, by the way, has a new video where he talks about the past year. Take a look…
Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady responds…
“Today Governor Quinn will sign into law legislation claiming to be a significant victory for ethics reform in the State of Illinois. However, the reality is quite different. Notwithstanding the laudable efforts by numerous citizen reform groups, the legislation does nothing more than enhance the power of those who supported Rod Blagojevich. Notably absent from today’s bill signing is any legislation recommended by Governor Quinn’s Reform Committee Task Force.”
[US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald] not only went after Blagojevich, satisfying the growing political Machine in Illinois that wanted him to leave, but also check-mated Obama. How could Obama replace Fitzgerald in the wake of his taking action against Blagojevich over Obama’s old senate seat without looking like he was protecting “corruption” in Illinois?
Never mind that what Fitzgerald did was wrong. People are innocent until proven guilty in America, but not in Fitzgerald’s eyes. And, there is a process of prosecution that Fitzgerald side-stepped and avoided in going after Blagojevich to protect his own political career in Illinois. Instead of filing charges, Fitzgerald used the Chicago FBI to arrest Blagojevich one year ago at his home not on charges but on trumped up claims thatw ere not backed by evidence at all.
Imagine if the US Attorney can do that anytime he doesn’t like someone? Accuse them of a crime, disgrace them publicly? Say things to disparage someone you don’t like and set up a political movement to have him removed from office and never, ever have to provide one real bit of fair evidence in a court room where the target, Blagojevich, can defend himself?
RAY HANANIA who wrote that pile of nonsense saying Fitzgerald trumped up the charges on Blago is an incredibly clueless, naive person who probably the only one left in Illinois who feels Blago was screwed out of the governor’s mansion.
Hanania is over the top except to the extent that Fitzgerald is a prime example of the abuse of the “honest services fraud” that the Supremes were clearly unhappy w/ during the oral arguments yesterday. At the core, the Feds argue that corruption is too hard to prosecute unless we can make up crimes base upon what evidence we can find–that is fn golden and gives someone like Blago yet another basis for phony sympathy.
Ray H. is way off on Obama. No way, no how, was he going to endure a raging political firestorm to get rid of Fitz. Remember, Obama was interviewed by Fitz’s agents when he was president-elect over his A-Team’s dopey contacts with Blago on the Senate seat.
A year later, and what bugs me most is how many of Blago’s cronies and foot soldiers are still dug in at various middle-management positions all thru state government. I can forgive Quinn everything he may have messed-up but this. I thought most of those hacks would take the hint and leave quietly by now, but apparently all they have to do is say they’ll fight just as dirty for the new boss they’d spent years undermining, as they once did for Elvis, and all is forgiven. Really? Are we really fresh out of real civil servants for those positions?
” . . . would a weak House Speaker have been able to stand in Blagojevich’s way for two years, as Michael Madigan did? . . .”
Would a weak or a powerful state party chairman have endorsed the candidacy of a Blagojevich twice? Chairman Madigan had to stand in the way in his capacity as Speaker because he helped put Blagojevich in that position in the first place.
CF, you think MJM should’ve endorsed the GOP candidate? He is party chairman, after all. Also, there was no coordinated campaign in 2006. He never served on the finance committee. This co-chairman thing was mainly a formality. Yes, it has political importance after the fact, but during the fact there was no cooperation. MJM didn’t even call RRB on election night in 2006, a fact that upset the guv to no end.
- Pot calling kettle - Wednesday, Dec 9, 09 @ 3:12 pm:
==Imagine if the US Attorney can do that anytime he doesn’t like someone? Accuse them of a crime, disgrace them publicly?==
This is the one part of the piece that does happen more often than it should. The feds will be after a public official and have trouble developing enough evidence. They will then leak some of what they have to a reporter in the hope that a story will open some more leads.
This unfortunate track record (of prosecutor leaks) then allows someone like Rod to claim he is being hounded by an ambitious prosecutor. The big difference, of course, is that it wasn’t a leak with not enough evidence; it was an arrest followed by an indictment backed up by taped conversations.
The Illinois political mentality forgives Chairman Madigan for not outright opposing Blagojevich’s candidacy. It is the same mentality that midwifed his Governorship and has sent this state into a fiscal tailspin. He did not have to support a Republican to oppose Blagojevich. He could have used his power and strength to field a better candidate, but chose not to. Blagojevich’s first term portended much of what happened in his second term. Chairman Madigan knew that, but put party interests above the best interests of Illinois, and continues to do so. That may be admirable, even laudable, to some; IMO not so much.
Ray Ray Ray, you took it a bit too far. Was Ray still around
Miriam when she took the fall and there’s lots of bad memories? But, Fitzgerald did get way too loud at the press conference. even the most tough prosecutors I know think he gave prosecutors a bad name by grandstanding. as for the honest services clause, well, now they will indict the hard way.
Rich Miller is one of my favorite writers and am honored when my opinion columns (remember, I’m not a journalist any longer but rather a commentator : ) ) are referenced here. My point was that there were replace many people who though before and after the election that Obama, a Chicago Democrat, might come to Daley’s defense and appoint someone else to Fitzgerald. And while I don’t know if Blagojevich is guilty or innocent because I still do believe in the US Constitution, there is no question that he was treated unfairly.
And yes, I did take the job as spokesman for the Town of Cicero and will also oversee the development of their new Town Cable TV programming. The mainstream media is less and less relevant and alternative media are gaining in popularity among the public. I think that’s great, especially since one of my secondary dedications has been working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. (My wife is Jewish and I am palestinian and it is required in my copy of the Katubah!) Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to everyone! (And belated Eid Mubarak, too!)