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Impeachment roundup

Wednesday, Dec 17, 2008

* 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.

* Related…

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Bill Baar - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:32 am:

    Impeachment is a political thing and that means the Gov can play politics with it too.

    He will and he is not without a political defense.

  2. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:39 am:

    Blagojevich’s attorneys are paid by the hour, so they would like to see this drag on until they pay off their new vacation homes in Hell.

  3. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:45 am:

    I sure don’t understand all the hooplah about Genson, considering that among his list of clients are Dean Bauer, Larry Warner, Scott Fawell and Mel Reynolds. He may have kept RKelly and Conrad Black out of the Graybar Hotel, but I think his track record for politicians stinks.

  4. - Ghost - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:47 am:

    I am not sure from what fund they are paid by the hour. Blood turnip and all of that.

    This whole mess in Illinois right now gives new meaning to the famous Dickens opener: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it ws the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

  5. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:50 am:

    Actually, Hell ain’t a bad place to be.

  6. - Joe in the Know - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:51 am:

    Conrad Black is imprisioned.

  7. - Little Egypt - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 9:54 am:

    JITK - REALLY? Well that makes Gensen an even worse pick then, doesn’t it?

  8. - BandCamp - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:10 am:

    VM or someone, please enlighten all of us how in the world Rod is going to pay for all this legal aid? If it is pro bono, ok…but I just don’t see that. He owes other lawyers big time $$$$ and also for his real estate.

    Is it back to taking bets in the ‘hood? Parlay sheet anyone??

  9. - Capitol View - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Let’s not get drawn into a diversion here. Every legislative body has the right to investigate.

    Gensen is already acting as if this is an impeachment motion, and it is not. It is a fact finding and governmental review process.

    As it concludes, the governor or his representative should have the opportunity to rebut some of the presumptions and presentations, before the committee votes to send a recommendation on whether or not to proceed with impeachment.

    This is not a criminal trial as much as an investigation of a possible crime scene. The gov should have hired a friendly political science or public administration professor, not a criminal law attorney.

    Gersen should have told the governor, “stay clear of this and let them make mistakes that we can use later as the final committee product or the subsequent impeachment action is presented to the public.” But the showboat in both the gov and Gersen overcame their best interests…

  10. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    Here is some bizarre reading I stumbled across in this months Chicago Parent Magazine featuring Patricia Blagojevich’s take on raising her kids titled “All about the Children.

    Some quotes:

    “I don’t want to see them go into politics. It’s a rough-and-tumble life. Politics in Chicago is like a blood sport,’’

    “It’s mean,’’ she says of the political arena. “It’s not really anything you want your kids to get involved in. We do a lot of good things for people, but sometimes the cost is too high.’’

    “Our biggest challenge is to keep the girls’ lives normal as possible in a very abnormal situation. That is one of the reasons we decided not to move to Springfield,’’ she says.

    “We try to keep the pressure and scrutiny out of the house.”" Blagojevich says, adding the family copes by “doing a lot of cocooning.’’

    “You see children who don’t have that support, because their parents weren’t engaged (in the youngsters’ lives) or they might not have a father around. It has made me realize how fortunate children are to have two parents that are there for them.’’

    Twenty years from now, Blagojevich sees herself and the governor “retired, with a nest egg, traveling a lot.’’

    “I’m looking forward to the day he’s not in politics,’’ she says.

    It’s a long feature and can be found at

  11. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:19 am:

    How Currie handles Genson will be interesting. My guess is he will try to intimidate her as soon as possible.

    I suspect he’ll try to portray the committee as a Star Chamber trying to railroad his client.

    Currie’s explanations from the chair as to the difference between impeachment and a criminal trial will be crucial to educating the public.

  12. - MikeintheSuburbs - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    Someone correct me if I am wrong on this but I beleive he can liquidate his campaign fund (he won’t be needing it anymore), pay taxes on it as income, and use what’s left for his legal fees.

  13. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    MikeintheSuburbs, you’re wrong.

  14. - Blago Sphere - Wednesday, Dec 17, 08 @ 10:26 am:

    {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.}

    Sound rational reasons to proceed down this path have existed for years, and even some the offenses with respect to the abuse of power and exceeding his authority took place prior to his re-election campaign.

    Proceeding down this path was impossible for the minority Republicans without the cooperation of the majority Democrats. Had the majority proceeded down this path themselves previously, there was some political peril, and little political benefit to them to do so. The legal charges also now provide them protection by removing the potential political peril, and the political benefits now far outweigh the risks.

    The political aspects aside; the legislature shirked its constitutional duty by not proceeding down this path much sooner and the legal consequences of those decisions are the end result.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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