* This passage from today’s SJ-R gets it right…
But lawmakers and others are quick to note the House investigation isn’t a legal proceeding. It’s a political process aimed at deciding whether Blagojevich is still able to govern.
“Our determination is not to find the governor guilty. Our task is to determine whether he’s capable of leading this state,” said Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago.
Kent Redfield, a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Springfield, says that creates a different expectation of what’s fair as lawmakers begin to grill Blagojevich and his administration in coming weeks.
“This is not about a murder that took place in Chicago or a bank robbery in Cairo. This is about running the state of Illinois,” Redfield said. “It’s a political decision, a political judgment, and so fair is not really the right term to use.”
* But one of the governor’s criminal lawyers has set the bar too high…
Another Blagojevich lawyer, Sheldon Sorosky, criticized the fast-moving impeachment process and, in particular, a Monday invitation from the committee for the governor to attend today’s hearing.
“In House Speaker Madigan’s press release regarding the Special Committee, he stressed that it was imperative that due process not be sacrificed for expediency’s sake,’ The Special Committee is failing to follow the speaker’s directive,” Sorosky wrote to Madigan’s chief legal counsel, David Ellis.
“By giving the governor and his counsel such short notice to be present before the Special Committee, the governor’s right to due process is being violated. Speaker Madigan’s demand’ not to allow passion and anger to overtake fidelity to the constitution and rule of law’ are being made empty words’ in light of lack of reasonable notice,” Sorosky said in a letter released by the House impeachment panel.
Impeachment is more like a grand jury than a criminal trial, and it’s not even that. The state constitution tasks the House with determining “the existence of cause for impeachment,” and then proceeding with impeachment itself. The committee is now determining if there is cause for impeachment.
And always keep in mind that impeachment is not a criminal process, with all the US Constitution’s protections involved, it’s a political process controlled by the House alone.
* Genson has no legal or constitutional right to demand anything at all. Keep that in mind today when he attends the impeachment committee hearing…
The attorney, Ed Genson, planned to attend Wednesday’s meeting of a special Illinois House committee reviewing potential impeachment and may provide the first hint of the embattled Democratic governor’s strategy.
Genson, a famously tough Chicago trial attorney, could signal that his legal team will participate fully in the committee’s work by cross-examining witnesses and arguing Blagojevich’s case. Or he could challenge the committee, perhaps arguing its review shouldn’t go forward for some reason.
* Some of this is right, some of it may not be…
The federal charges against Blagojevich represent the most scandalous information to be reviewed by the House committee. But with the investigation continuing and FBI officials saying they would not assist the impeachment, it is doubtful the criminal charges will play the biggest role in the proceedings.
Still, the criminal acts alleged to have been committed by Blagojevich provided lawmakers with a reason to proceed with impeachment after quietly discussing it for years.
The panel is expected to base its recommendation largely on actions Blagojevich has taken in the governor’s chair, including allegations of official misconduct, abuse of power and failing to follow state law. Specific acts include a questionable $1 million grant to a private Chicago school, spending millions of public dollars on outdated flu vaccines and expanding a costly health care program without legislative approval or the money to pay for it.
The committee also is expected to consider the guilty pleas of two Blagojevich donors on federal corruption charges. Ali Ata, a former agency director, said he gave Blagojevich a $25,000 donation and was later rewarded with a high-paid state job. Joseph Cari, a former national Democratic finance chairman, testified that Blagojevich discussed trading state contracts for campaign contributions.
* More on Genson…
With a curly mane of graying red hair and the demeanor of the late British dramatic actor Charles Laughton, Genson is a performance artist. He’s has been known to crack his cane across a defense table for the sheer theater of it or to bellow, “I am not your sweetie!” to a prosecution witness who dared address him as such. His presence fills up a courtroom and gives judges heartburn.
* And the governor is still not talking… much…
“I can’t wait to begin to tell my side of the story,” he said prior to going running through his Ravenswood neighborhood. “I’m dying to talk to the people of Illinois.”
A chipper Blagojevich added he would not be attending impeachment hearings in Springfield today, but he told reporters to “hang loose” while heading back into his house.
* Road to impeachment is long; court action needed
* Illinois officials, governor’s attorney set for showdown
* Some answers about what will happen in Springfield
* State Capitol Q&A: Blagojevich’s potential impeachment
* Impeachment Day 1 now w/ Quote of the Day Reporter: What could the governor have done? Giannoulias: “Not get arrested.”
* Blagojevich scandal biggest non-election, non-economy story of the year