* 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.
* 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’