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Impeachment thoughts and roundup

Tuesday, Dec 16, 2008

* There’s just no way to tell how long the impeachment process will take…

The estimated timeline has ranged from a few weeks to a few months. Madigan said the governor’s decision about whether to attend the proceedings as “invited” could play into how long the process takes. “If he does not appear personally or through an agent, it will greatly shorten the proceedings of the committee. If he appears personally or through an agent, it will lengthen the proceedings of the committee. That’s all I can tell you.”

* It’s also very likely that the committee will continue to meet, at least briefly, after the new General Assembly is sworn in on January 14th…

If the proceedings run into the next General Assembly, which is scheduled to start January 15, committee members said they would vote to allow their work to carry over.

There will likely be no problem with that.

* The Chicago Tribune is exactly right today

Can the governor be impeached by the House and stripped of office by the Illinois Senate on the basis only of Fitzgerald’s criminal complaint?

Our belief: Yes. But there are reasons for this action beyond the criminal complaint, including the governor’s efforts to usurp the power of the legislature. The governor has lost his capacity to lead, and should be ousted from office so someone else can guide state government at this treacherous time. Separately, whatever happens in court, happens in court.

Right on, Tribsters.

* And before anyone else editorializes or writes a column about the impeachment process, I suggest they Google “Evan Mecham.” For example

My guess is that at this point, Blagojevich would go to the state Supreme Court and attempt to block the impeachment proceedings, claiming that he’s being investigated by federal prosecutors for criminal conduct and cannot defend himself against impeachment for fear of compromising his right against self-incrimination.

The Supreme Court justices, all of whom have respect for the trial process, might be likely to accept that sort of argument.

Highly doubtful. Arizona Gov. Mecham was impeached and removed while awaiting trial on corruption charges. The Arizona constitution has a “high crimes and misdemeanors” component, unlike Illinois’ constitution, but the courts there refused to step in.

More

I still don’t see how you can use the current federal charges against Blagojevich as the basis for an impeachment proceeding and expect him to be able to fairly defend himself.

Mecham argued that defending himself in the Senate trial would compromise his criminal trial. Too bad, the state Supremes ruled. Deal with it.

Impeachment is a political process, not a courtroom legal process. People need to stop thinking like a criminal defense lawyer and start treating this as a constitutional legislative process.

More

At every turn, state officials need to consult with the U.S. attorney’s office to ensure they’re not working at cross-purposes. It would be counterproductive, for example, for the committee to interview witnesses before the feds got to them.

Maybe so, but Illinois has the right and the duty to deal with this as it sees fit. And Fitz has been consulted

Rep. Gary Hannig, a Litchfield Democrat who will serve on the committee, said Fitzgerald had neither ruled out nor committed himself to helping the legislative inquiry.

“He said, ‘Give us a list of what you want, and we will talk about it,’” Hannig said.

* And I’m not too worried about this, either

House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, supported the impeachment effort, but he echoed concerns about gridlock in government during the impeachment process.

“Will the state function? No. The state’s going to be on hold,” Cross said at a news conference after Madigan’s announcement.

Or this

The impeachment and trial of Blagojevich would slow state government to an even greater crawl. Springfield would morph from turtle to snail. As little as state lawmakers have accomplished in the last year, imagine how little they would do while also juggling an impeachment.

Blagojevich’s arrest has halted everything anyway. Nobody can do a deal with him now, so impeachment is neither here nor there. We are paralyzed with or without it.

* And I checked with Madigan on this last night and was told there was no such plan

Hours after Madigan announced the committee’s formation at a Monday news conference, a member of his staff contacted The State Journal-Register and said the committee Thursday will take testimony from journalists who have had trouble getting answers to requests made under the state Freedom of Information Act.

* This kind of stuff does worry me, however

Republicans complained that Madigan stacked the committee with 12 Democratic members, but just nine GOP members.

“It’s obvious Speaker Madigan is trying to manipulate the whole process,” said state Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Spring.

That goofy debate went on forever. Republicans whined, Democrats attacked, etc. It was a truly disgusting display of partisanship at a time when the House should’ve come together as one. Disgusting.

* And this dismissive tone needs to stop

“Impeachment talk’s nothing new for this governor,” Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero told reporters in Chicago, shrugging off the creation of an impeachment committee that meets for the first time today — one week after Blagojevich’s arrest stunned Illinois and the nation. “They’ve been talking about it for a long time.”

They’ve been talking about it for a long time for a very good reason. Downplaying impeachment is almost as goofy as allegedly auctioning a US Senate seat. This is serious business. Take it seriously.

* Related…

* Pressure grows on Illinois governor

* Impeachment inquiry launched

* Committee to report on Blago’s offenses

* House takes first step toward impeachment

* Process to impeach governor starts

* Prospect of impeachment now looms over Blagojevich

* Illinois House votes unanimously to create impeachment panel

* Who’s on the House impeachment panel?

* Madigan: Governor Will Get Fair Impeachment Review

* House speaker spells it out for Blagojevich

* Quinn Says Impeachment can be Done by January

* Should the House explore impeachment?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - Boscobud - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:46 am:

    If the democrats keep talking the worse they look, and the republicans will win that seat.


  2. - Ghost - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:47 am:

    The impeachment process has generated its own red herring. The legislature does not need to rely on any of the criminal conduct to impeach. They coudl, for example, rely on the Governors refusal to abide by JCAR, the recent court decision which found him liable for expanding government spending without authority, any number of retalitory discharges, decisiding to close pontaic or move partrs of IDOT after the oversight committe’s found such actions where not in the States interest, closing pontiac o retaliate against law makers, etc etc.

    Instead of trying to make the impeachment about the issues raised criminally, just ignore that herring and go with the stuff thats already documented, easy to prove, and does not require any venturing onto the grounds of the crminal prosecution. There is plenty of stuff there.


  3. - RBergman - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:49 am:

    The “Combine” doesn’t want impeachment, nor Pat Quinn as Governor.

    They will go all out for an unconstitutional “Special Election” and use their dupes in the ILL-GOP to do it.


  4. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:49 am:

    Will there be Live Audio of the Impeachment Committee meetings? It will be better than “Days of our Lives”.


  5. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:51 am:

    Well, there is always the positive. While they are impeaching, they probably won’t have the time or energy to raise our income taxes. If they do, Blago would likely veto.

    Whether he is impeached or not, Blago surely will not run in 2010. Or will he…..This is Illinois, after all. And $177k is $177k. More than he likely could make outside the cocoon of state government employment. Based on our past history, we can’t say Illiois might not vote him in again,especially if the fearsome Mr. Genson gets him off.

    And why has Mr. Rezko suddenly changed his mind about a prompt sentencing. Is he jumping on the
    Blago impeachment bandwagon in hope of consideration later.

    Meanwhile, those 21 conversation Rahm supposedly had about the Senate seat….how many of us can remember word for word 21 conversations we had even recently. Despite the appearance of serenity, this had to be making the “Obama transition team” nervous.


  6. - Cousin Ralph - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 9:59 am:

    Dont know who selected the Republicans, but that is an excellent group.


  7. - seriously - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:01 am:

    The republicans should recognize it is only mere courtesy that they are represented at all. The only reason they have seats left is because the incumbents haven’t retired yet. They are a fossil waiting ti die and be forgotten


  8. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:07 am:

    I think MJM should be commended for the sobriety and care he’s taking in the impeachment process.

    Last week, with the announcement on the session to consider a special election, I was a little worried about motivations regarding he lack of impeachment action (I’m part of the microwave generation, too).

    Now, the plan is obviously to cross every T and dot every I in order to ensure due process and fairness to the governor while setting precedent for the future.

    Maybe that wasn’t the original plan, and it might not be the most emotionally satisfying, but that’s the way it should be, and that’s real leadership.


  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:15 am:

    Impeachment is a political process, not a courtroom legal process. People need to stop thinking like a criminal defense lawyer and start treating this as a constitutional legislative process.

    This is exactly true. I have posted some strongly worded posts to that effect and have been equated as a jihadist, or living in an Islamic country.

    We cannot allow legal gymnastics to prevent us from doing what we should have been doing years ago - impeaching Blagojevich. It was within the safe harbor of legal thinking that allowed Blagojevich to slither under ethical bars, commit criminal acts and fudge statements. We must demand that this kind of thinking end, or we will continue with a culture of corruption within Illinois.

    We must raise the political bar as high as it is in other states, above the legal gymnastics of defense attorneys, and return it to matters of right and wrong, as the people see it. If we do not do this, we will continue to base our ethical and moral standards on criminal definitions and allow a neverending circus of lowering standards and compromises, instead of government excellence.

    We need our elected officials to do the right thing, not just the legal thing. We need our elected officials to serve the citizens as they have promised during their campaigns. They set the bar and spent the millions to win us over - this similar standard needs to be applied to how they serve us once in office.

    And we need to kick their butts publically and thoroughly when they fail, so as to set an example, clean our governments, and restore credibility to voters.


  10. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Lucio’s comments about the impeachment process are necessarily dismissive. He is speaking for the Governor, just as his predecessors did. Why does his tone need to stop? Any good PR person would do exactly the same thing. Remember this Governor, despite all the unpopularity, despite the increasingly bad press, is still the Governor. He may have taken money for jobs, but he has never taken a dive. I don’t expect he will now.


  11. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    I explained why this needs to stop in the post. The governor needs to take this seriously.


  12. - fan of capitol fax - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    per Kass there is connectione between Genson, Cullerton and Deleo. to the unitiated it seems obvious that Blago has plenty of pay to play info on many in the Dem stae leadership (until recently he was bigtime on the inside of dem leadership politics, see Madigan, campaign chair of blago re-election, plus Obama and Rahm actively part of his re-election per their own words.) why would one not assume this impeachment process (led by Cullerton and Madigan)as initiated by the dems is essentially a fraud, intentionally designed to drag things out as long as it takes to get Blago to resign without spilling the beans on many unsavory details of how things work?? thus important for them to have a 12 - 9 advantage, make sure nothing too ugly gets scrutinized - Rich are you blaming the dems then for the partisanship or do you think the repubs are being unreasonable?


  13. - From the Sidelines - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:24 am:

    I call for Lucio Guerrero to resign, effective immediately. He obviously has no self-respect.


  14. - Phil Collins - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    Many people forget that a governor can be impeached and not be removed from office, since the trial is similar to the one that is used for presidents. In 1998, Clinton was impeached, but he wasn’t removed from office. If someone thinks that Blaogjevich should be removed from office, he or she should say, “He should be impeached and convicted.”


  15. - BIG R.PH. - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 10:28 am:

    I know the spineless Dems are in control and they are all spineless politicians but really how long should this process take?

    Just like in the Sprint Commerical with the firefighters. Should take less than 30 seconds then look around and say “This is the easiest job we have done!”


  16. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 11:09 am:

    The Gov just signed HB5151 an approp bill using Tobacco money to pay for healthcare, among other line items.


  17. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 12:31 pm:

    There is no due process requirement for impeachment. It’s not a legal process.


  18. - Ghost - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 1:42 pm:

    Archpunit you are incorrect. Due process is required anytime you use the power of government to remove a property right. An elected official has a property right in their job for the term of their office. Thus if you seek to remove an elected offical before the end of their elected term, you are taking a property right and must comply with Due process.

    Due process is simply the act of providing a meaningful iopportunity to be heard and respond to the allegations. Generally speaking, it provides a check to make sure the acting body has not made a mistake or an error. Impeachmnet must comport with the requirements of due process.


  19. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 1:46 pm:

    ===An elected official has a property right in their job for the term of their office. ===

    That’s crazy talk. Read the IL constitution. The “property right” can be taken away by a simple vote in both chambers without any reason or cause. What does that tell you about the “property right”?


  20. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 1:47 pm:

    And, I would remind you that RRB came out against the constitutional convention. He not only took an oath to uphold this constitution, he also supports this constitution as-is.


  21. - Deep South - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 1:53 pm:

    Phil seems to have it right. The term impeachment is tossed around carelessly. The House decides is the senate should hold a trial or a hearing if you will. That’s the impeachment. That’s what happened to Clinton and Andrew Johnson. Johnson was impeached by the House, but cleared in the Senate by just one vote. So Clinton and Johnson were impeached, but remained in office.


  22. - Ghost - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 2:15 pm:

    An elected official entitled to hold office under state law has a property right in that office. Where IL state law provides that an elected official shall serve a term of four years, such a statute gives the elected official a property interest in the office for the given length of time, and that the official must receive due process before being removed from office. c.f. East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, Local 1220, American Federation
    178 Ill.2d 399, 687 N.E.2d 1050
    (Ill. S. Ct 1997)


  23. - Ghost - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 2:25 pm:

    I should add that Due process is distinct from cause. i.e you can meet due process by having a hearing and an opportunity to be heard on whether the consitutional standards for removal have been complied with. he Senate proceeding appears to provide the process that is due to challaneg the validity of the house action. Unanswered is whetehr there is a right to some type of hearing pre-impeachment, i.e. before the vote.


  24. - RBergman - Tuesday, Dec 16, 08 @ 8:55 pm:

    Some time ago the Speaker issued talking points on why Blagojevich shoud be impeached.

    Now, much later the time has come. I surely doubt he’d risk looking foolish to allow the Impeachment Inquiry Committee to flounder around with no direction or game plan.

    I’m sure the Speaker has a plan outlined to get this done quickly, thoroughly and in a manner that will serve as a template should any such rare predicament ever again arise.

    As far as the ILL-GOP, they don’t have a clue and have been non-players for years.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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