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Man up and go away

Monday, Jan 12, 2009

* My syndicated newspaper column

Gov. Rod Blagojevich was pure defiance last week after the House voted 114 to 1 to impeach him.

Blagojevich said he expected the impeachment because the House has been fighting him tooth and nail ever since he was re-elected in 2006. A statement his office released a day earlier predicted smoother sailing in the Senate.

“It was a foregone conclusion,” the governor said about the impeachment.

“When the case moves to the Senate, an actual judge will preside over the hearings, and the governor believes the outcome will be much different,” his office’s official statement read.

The outcome of last week’s impeachment vote was, indeed, a “foregone conclusion.” But not because the proceedings were based on a purely political war, as the governor claimed, but because of the depth and breadth of the governor’s own official malfeasance. This has been coming for a very long time, and the governor knows it. I’m not the only one who warned him what could happen if he didn’t straighten out his act.

And the man is delusional if he truly believes the outcome will be any different in the Senate. There will be an “actual judge” presiding during his trial, and he will have a few more rights than he did during the impeachment process. But if the governor really thinks he can find the 20 senators he’ll need to block his removal from office next month, then he should be locked in a rubber room.

Voting to spare Blagojevich from the fate he so richly deserves would be an inexcusable, unforgivable mega-sin with consequences that nobody ever could escape.

Blagojevich’s statements essentially were reruns of everything we’ve heard from him for the past six years. The House is to blame for all the world’s ills. The Senate will save him. He is an heroic figure who did nothing wrong.

The House was never the real problem. House Speaker Michael Madigan has battled with every governor he’s served with, but he always found a way to cut a deal at the end of the day - until Blagojevich came along. Madigan, in fact, appears awfully darn prescient now.

And governor, I’ve got news for you: Senate President Emil Jones is retiring this week. Your comrade in arms will not be around to save your neck when your Senate trial begins as he has done so many times in the past.

And that presiding judge? The Senate will be able to override all of his decisions. Plus, Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald was a criminal courts judge for decades. He knows a crook when he sees one.

You really have to wonder what the governor is thinking here. Come February when he’s removed from office, all those hoops the U.S. Attorney must navigate when attempting to investigate and indict a sitting governor will disappear. No longer will Patrick Fitzgerald have to check in with Washington, D.C., whenever he wants to make a move against Blagojevich because the governor will be a private citizen by then.

If Blagojevich thinks he’s being manhandled by Fitzgerald now, just wait until Fitz’s restraints are removed.

Also, when elected officials offer to plead guilty and resign their offices, the U.S. attorney has to take that into consideration.

Any leverage Blagojevich might have to reduce his sentence to a length that will allow him to serve at a halfway decent minimum security prison will undoubtedly vanish if he’s removed from office before he cops a plea.

Frankly, conviction is almost as certain as the governor’s removal. Former Gov. George Ryan is serving essentially a life sentence for some dinky little crimes in comparison to this governor’s alleged lawlessness. Plus, the feds didn’t have thousands of surveillance tapes on George like they do with Rod. As Hawk Harrelson would say: “He gone.”

Then there’s Patti Blagojevich, who is likely behind Fitzgerald’s “Door Number Two.” Offering to resign now and throwing himself at the mercy of the system might spare the governor’s wife from imprisonment.

Does Rod Blagojevich really want his much-hated father-in-law Dick Mell to raise his children?

Cut your best deal and resign, governor. Spare the state and your family from this tragicomic circus. Man up and go away.

* Three cheers for the Sun-Times

One of the charges the governor faces involves his stalling $8 million in funding for children’s specialty doctors across the state. The reason for the delay, according to prosecutors: to try to squeeze a $50,000 contribution from Patrick Magoon, chief executive officer of Children’s Memorial Hospital, which led efforts to get that funding.

Now — even in the wake of his Dec. 9 arrest — Blagojevich hasn’t lifted the virtual brick he placed on the $8 million prosecutors say his administration dangled in front of Magoon to get him to give to the governor’s campaign fund. And the anger the governor is facing for that appears to be growing.

* More revelations

Michael Vondra — construction magnate and asphalt kingpin — is working on a new business deal with BP, the gasoline behemoth. And he wanted Gov. Blagojevich to help him out with state environmental regulators.

Vondra and the governor talked about the deal last Oct. 6 in the governor’s North Side campaign office — not knowing federal agents were eavesdropping.

Afterward, Blagojevich decided to hit Vondra up for money — $100,000 to be raised before the state’s new campaign-finance rules kicked in the first of this year.

These allegations are part of the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, but they’ve drawn little attention because federal authorities concealed Vondra’s identity in court records.

* And, finally, ignore this fear-mongering

Senate planners hope that the trial will begin Jan. 26, and Cullerton pointed to the Clinton trial lasting three weeks as a potential length of Blagojevich’s day in political court. A source familiar with the situation said that might be too ambitious a start date. Blagojevich’s defense team may ask for weeks or months to prepare, and all of the prosecution and defense witnesses could stretch the trial out longer, the source said.

That’s just wrong. Subscribe to find out why.

* Related…

* Some state legislators and healthcare advocates have started pressing scandal-plagued Gov. Rod Blagojevich to immediately release $8 million in state reimbursements for children’s specialty doctors that he allegedly used to seek a campaign contribution.

* Madigan: Bill wouldn’t have stopped Blagojevich

* Analysis: Blagojevich faces tough trial in Senate

* Daley: Impeachment a ’sad day’ in Illinois

* Schoenburg: Governor’s absence from Capitol part of ‘totality’

* Blagojevich frames impeachment as him against the House

* Blagojevich to swear in Senate, then members start his trial

* How Will Blagojevich Defend Himself in Court?

* Blago on One of His Favorite Presidents: Richard Nixon

* Gov. Rod Blagojevich can even embarrass Cubs: If a huge Cubs fan holds the highest public office in the state, then there’s a decent chance it’s going to end in spectacularly bad fashion.

* Quotations of Gov. Blagojevich

* Conrad Black: Chicago’s Torquemada claims another victim

* In trial of gov, Senate must put fairness first

* Tribune editorial: That Durbin ‘election’

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - Bill - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 9:42 am:

    ==Madigan: Bill wouldn’t have stopped Blagojevich==
    Yes, I would have!


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 9:56 am:

    With all the time and resources that the feds have invested in Blago, and given that his Senate conviction and removal appears to be a certainty, I wonder if he has the leverage to make a deal by resigning. Maybe for his wife if need be, but not for himself.

    The feds have something like four-years of work-product on how this guy has conducted his office. If we don’t get to see it in a trial, they owe it to the people to let us know what they found out anyway.

    In Whitewater, Ken Starr didn’t bring any charges against Clinton, but he did release his infamous report (didn’t really seem to be about real estate).


  3. - OneMan - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 10:08 am:

    wordslinger
    A former co-worker of mine worked for the Trib on web stuff when the report came out…

    Besides for being their biggest traffic day ever at that point, I will let you guess what the most common search term was.


  4. - scoot - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 10:53 am:

    Couldn’t the GA just override the Guv’s veto? How many excuses will he come up w/ do avoid a special election?


  5. - Thomas Westgard - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:04 am:

    Sexism! If Patti Blagojevich is the foul-mouthed felon she appears to be, she shouldn’t be raising those kids either. I remain a staunch supporter of equal rights - and responsibilities.


  6. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:09 am:

    Sexism? lol


  7. - VanillaMan - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:21 am:

    Is this where Rod Blagojevich discovers that if you have enough senators cowering behind one another, their combined weight counters his testicular virility?

    One-on-one, Blagojevich can take any of the state legislators except Madigan and a couple of others. He can even take Reid and our state Care Bear, Dick Durbin.

    But like in good basketball, a team of shorties can beat a foul-mouthed hot shot everyone hates. This is the chapter in Illinois history where Rod Blagojevich discovers the limits of his testicular virility.


  8. - ThreeSheets - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:36 am:

    Rich, the problem with your opinion piece, and all the ones calling for him to do the right thing, morally, legally or for his family, is that you think he acts and thinks like a rational person.

    I’m not a pyschiatrist and I won’t offer some diagnosis of his mental state. I am, however, a criminal defense attorney who has represented many people like the Gov. Over those years I’ve come to the conclusion that some people just aren’t rational or reasonable. Might not rise to the level of mental illness, but you just can’t expect them to behave like a normal, thoughtful person would.

    Nothing I have seen from the Gov. before or after his arrest leads me to conclude that he would ever step down, whether it is in what normal people think is his best interest.

    You, the Sun-Times and the Trib are just wasting time urging him to step down.


  9. - ThreeSheets - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:37 am:

    following up…

    In short, there is no there there.


  10. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:38 am:

    ===You, the Sun-Times and the Trib are just wasting time urging him to step down. ===

    Maybe so, but I wanted to be on record as saying it.


  11. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:52 am:

    I’d say wait for the scene when they have to drag him out of the Governor’s office as he tries to hang on to his desk, but he never actually goes there so that problem is solved.


  12. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:54 am:

    ===but he never actually goes there so that problem is solved. ===

    He goes there every day now. Mainly because his campaign office is bugged.


  13. - cermak_rd - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:55 am:

    I think it would hurt his criminal trial to step down (assuming he can’t cut a deal and given there’s no indictment yet, I’m not sure how you can make a deal without it) now. If he steps down, he looks guilty to a juror. If he is impeached, it can be framed that it was a political act. If he’s really lucky, the trial in the IL Sen will gum up Fitz’s criminal case.

    All in all, I think his main agenda now is staying out of jail. Well, that and trying to appear cultured by reciting poetry. He seems to be simultaneously raising and lowering the tone on that front.


  14. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 11:57 am:

    ===If he steps down, he looks guilty to a juror.===

    The idea is to cut a deal, not take it to a jury.


  15. - steve schnorf - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:06 pm:

    The idea of there being a list of witnesses who can’t be called troubles me, if they might be material to the Gov’s side of the case. Do we know who’s on the list?


  16. - vole - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:06 pm:

    Asphalt kingpin eh? Read the SunTimes article, but be prepared to retch.

    Blago has had a fertile field to work with these Vondra kind of business persons. I have to wonder just how deep the corruption goes with the asphalt and road construction industry in IL. It takes two to tango and Rod had some world class dance partners here in this business friendly environment.


  17. - Ghost - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:26 pm:

    Hubris thy name is Blagojevich.

    I can not decide if Blago is putting on this dog and pony to keep up the paychecks as long as possible; or whether he truly thinks he can manipulate himself out of the impeachment and criminal conviction.


  18. - Anon - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:39 pm:

    == Couldn’t the GA just override the Guv’s veto? How many excuses will he come up w/ do avoid a special election? ==

    Sure, they could override it. If he didn’t sit on it for 60 days first. If the 95th General Assembly didn’t adjourn sine die before he sent it back. If he didn’t amendatorily veto it to apply only to future vacancies and to give $20 and free tickets to a Cubs game at the newly-refurbished, state-owned Wrigley Field to every man, woman and child in Illinois.


  19. - Random Task - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:45 pm:

    Vondra is a classic example of the other one of the two in this tango of corruption. The most newsworthy item in this story isn’t that Vondra was looking to buy a favor from Blago, it’s that Vondra is also a big fundraiser for Bob Schillerstrom. Perhaps the G will take a look down that avenue as well? Do you think a little sweat started flowing out in Wheaton when they read this story?


  20. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 12:58 pm:

    Trib: “Blagojevich’s defense team may ask for weeks or months to prepare, and all of the prosecution and defense witnesses could stretch the trial out longer, the source said.”

    Rich: That’s just wrong. Subscribe to find out why.

    I hope most the readers can figure this one out without subscribing. Nothing against your business plan, Rich, but we should be well enough schooled by now to be able to recite the basics: “This is not a trial, there are no appeals, the Senate sets its own rules, the Senate wants this over with ASAP.”


  21. - the Patriot - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 1:18 pm:

    “Not take it to a Jury?” He is going to a Jury. He nominated Rolland Burris to find one African American Juror who will hold out. Hang on because he is going to destroy the entire democrat party. The pop shot at Emanual last week is just a tid bit of what you are going to see. I suspect each of those allegations in the report had some support from some lawmaker. Rich has made a point that the Guv needs 20 votes. He will point out each and every Senator who supported or benefitted from his alleged wrong doing. Are there 20 Senators who took too much to indict themselves by their prior acquiesence? I agree with Rich probably not 20 willing to go down with the Guv, but a lot are going down either way.

    Andy McKenna should put blago on the GOP payroll because is is our biggest asset.


  22. - King of West Texas - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 1:20 pm:

    OMG, Bill, you came around. I worked for his 2006 campaign, but I became disillusioned as well. Welcome to the club. I’ve only been a member for a short while.


  23. - Bill - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 1:50 pm:

    Why should the Illinois State Senate allow SuperFitz to dictate rules and witness lists to them? There is still no indictment five years and tens of millions of dollars later.
    Maybe if he kept his big nose out of state business the AG could have cleaned up the whole Rod mess a long time ago.
    The Northern district needs a USA who will concentrate on real crime.


  24. - this voter will remember - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 1:51 pm:

    Burris should not be seated until this investigation if finished for the simply fact that Blagojevich was arrested for attempting to sell this very seat. I understand ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and if Blagojevich is found to be innocent the appointment should stand. However, if Blagojevich is found to be guilty, then Burris should step aside.


  25. - downstate hack - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 2:14 pm:

    It appears to me that the Governor has few choices, but I agree with Rich nogotiating with the feds now before a Senate trial is his stongest effort. He can offer to resign for the good of the State only as long as he is Governor. Afte a Senate verdict he is dead meat to the feds.


  26. - Ghost - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 3:01 pm:

    Your assuming the Feds have a reason to negotiate. Given the Gov is weeks from being out the door, the feds do not appear to have much incentive to negotiate.


  27. - Six Degrees of Separation - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 3:35 pm:

    Maybe if he kept his big nose out of state business the AG could have cleaned up the whole Rod mess a long time ago.

    What, by trying to get him declared insane?

    Oops, that didn’t work, either.


  28. - Ditto - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 4:27 pm:

    Will someone wake me up when this nightmare is finally over?


  29. - Cogito - Monday, Jan 12, 09 @ 5:41 pm:

    ===The Northern district needs a USA who will concentrate on real crime.===

    The last I heard the federal charges filed constitute “real crime”.

    Related to the Senate vote, are there 20 Senators who want to vote against impeachment and take the chance that Blago will not be tried and convicted in court? I would think that it would be hard to run for re-election if you gave a pass to a felon. On the other hand if a Senator were to vote to convict and Blago is ultimately found not guilty, he or she can say that there was always more to it than the federal charges and the Senator had to make a decision based upon the evidence presented during the Senate trial.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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