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Recall or impeach?

Monday, Apr 28, 2008

* The Tribune editorial board continues its loud and steady drumbeat for the passage of a constitutional amendment for recall in the Illinois Senate

Two Chicago Democrats in the Illinois Senate paid a call on the Tribune editorial board last week. When prompted, Kwame Raoul and Heather Steans told us they don’t want a recall amendment added to the state constitution. They do, however, want an amendment to kill the mandate of a flat-rate state income tax, now 3 percent for individuals. They telegraphed urgency: Any potential amendment has to clear the General Assembly by May 4 to make November’s ballot.

When Raoul and Steans finished, we asked: So you want the people of Illinois to be able to vote in November on your income tax amendment—but you oppose giving them a vote on the recall amendment?

Pause for reflection on that irony.

“That’s right,” said Raoul, looking down.

“Yes,” added Steans, looking down.

As if that wasn’t over the top enough, they also put the Statehouse phone numbers for every Senate Democrat on their editorial page. The Senate isn’t in session today, so the secretaries will have to deal with these calls on their own.

* While the Tribune beats the drums for recall, some have moved on to more immediate solutions. My syndicated newspaper column concludes with these lines…

Ata’s guilty plea has shocked even some of the most hardened, cynical Statehouse types like little I’ve ever seen before. And when the shock wore off, a word started spreading through the crowd that had until now only been whispered on the fringes.

“Impeachment.”

Stay tuned.

* Scott Reeder had this fun little nugget

But until recently, the word “impeachment” only came up quietly as politicians sipped beer at various Springfield watering holes.

Now it is being talked about publicly.

Joel Brunsvold, a former state representative and Blagojevich cabinet member, recently told a group of visiting Quad-Citians he was surprised on how well versed Speaker of the House Speaker Michael Madigan’s staff is in the procedures to impeach a governor.

Even though, it has never happened in the state’s history.

* Unlike last year, Speaker Madigan refused to take the issue off the table

Late Friday afternoon, [House Speaker Michael Madigan[ told Flannery: “I don’t plan to create a committee for this purpose, today. Every day’s a new day. If we have to … my resolve is to do it appropriately and professionally.”

* But there is much resistance. Republican state Rep. Brent Hassert, who is a Tier One target and a member of House GOP leadership, downplayed the whole idea when asked by CBS 2

But until there is more evidence of wrongdoing by the governor, some critics of Blagojevich oppose impeaching him, including the second-highest ranking Republican in the Illinois House, Rep. Brent Hassert (R-Romeoville).

“Somewhere down the line that might change, but right now I don’t see anything that’s impeachable,” Hassert said.

* Meanwhile, the Tribune had a well-researched piece yesterday on a curious pattern to the governor’s campaign fundraising

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s aggressive fundraising machine collected hundreds of $25,000 checks in a campaign effort that dwarfed his predecessors’, and most of these big givers ended up benefiting from his administration.

A Tribune examination of all 235 of those donations shows that three of every four came from individuals, companies or interest groups who got something—from lucrative state contracts to coveted state board appointments to favorable policy and regulatory actions. […]

All told, Blagojevich’s campaign has raised more than $58 million since 2000, with nearly $6 million coming in donations of exactly $25,000. Those contributions—235 in all—came from 166 different donors. Those donors gave an additional $8.6 million in amounts larger and smaller than $25,000.

I didn’t see it in the story, but it would be helpful to know how many of thos donations came shortly before or shortly after those contracts and appointments were made.

* Related stories…

* Report links governor’s donors with getting benefits

* ($25,000) Check, please!

* Rove: Kjellander feared the Fitzgeralds

* Blagojevich - big game for federal corruption hunters?

* Beleaguered gov singing different tune

* Another governor heading for prison?

* Rezko trial diverts attention from governor’s agenda

* Ex-fugitive put up homes to spring Rezko

* Ex-inmate helps free Rezko from jail

* Key Witness to Testify in Rezko Trial

* ROUNDTABLE: Governor Recall

* Sen. Cronin: Stop stalling on a needed recall law

* Constitutional amendments busy lawmakers this year

* State Constitution headed for change?

* Constitutional convention up to voters

* Editorial: Any hope of progress in legislature?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Ghost - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:19 am:

    It is definetly fascinating to watch.

    Take Ata’s testimony, add in the nice reaearch peice on the 25k checks, and if this isnot ground for impeachment then we migh as well remove the pwoer, as its never going to be used to protect the citizens of IL. The continuing hestiancy to go forward with impeachment ampliphies why we need a recall ammendment so the people can do what their elected leaders are not. It begins to raise the question of how many of the opponents to impeachmnt have a conflict because of their own skeletons.


  2. - North of I-80 - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    We have a pool going - Pick the Date: Recall, Impeachment or Indictment. All 3 are considered equal and winner(s) declared by legal action only [indictment filed w/court, recall passed as option AND passed again, impeachment voted & passed]. Rumors or attempts don’t count and no need to specify what the avenue for date will be. To not violate the law, it is Monopoly $$ only… of course.


  3. - Anon - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    Interesting to see Transcore Inc who was hired by the Tollway to answer calls and can’t seem to do that in a timely fashion has sent checks to Blago, Dick Mell and Jay Hoffman according to the Open Book website. I wonder why those three and no one else….


  4. - corvax - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:30 am:

    Alsammarae is getting publicity now, but the curiosity is killing me–I can’t find in any news coverage a list of the other 15 individuals who have posted properties as security that Rezko won’t flee. Has anyone seen one?


  5. - S. Illinois - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:38 am:

    I think there is now enough evidence against Blagojevich in the public domain to obligate the legislature to investigate further. Impeachment is the only effective means to provide the tools and venue for that investigation.

    Could this, however, work to Blagojevich’s advantage? He has been very effective in stonewalling everyone except for Patrick Fitzgerald. What if the House votes for impeachment and investigates but fails to provide the “smoking gun” needed for a vote for removal from office? Blago is then on a much more firm footing unless or until the feds take action. It would give him opportunity to say, “see…the legislature says I’m clear!” I’m not saying it would happen, but it could…and the voters could buy it all again in 2010.


  6. - Captain America - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:45 am:

    I think recall is much more likely to produce the desired result than impeachment Everyone should call their State Senator to support the recall initiative as urged by the Chicago Tribune.

    It seems to me there is a higher burden of proof required for impeachment than recall. Evidence is likely to emerge eventually to satisfy a higher impeachmnt standard (indictment). When an indictemnt is handed down, impeachment could be the equiavalent of a vote of no confidence in a parliamentary system. Even if indicted, the Govenbor is likey to argue that it would be illegitmate to impeach him until he’s had his day in court and an opportunity to exonerate himself. As others have noted previously, I doubt that Governor A would resign before conviction.

    It is clear to me that voters would support recall given the Governor’s low approval ratings.Voter disatisfaction with sustained poor job performance seems to me to be a legitimate grounds for removal from office. Russ Stewart has an interesting column regarding Blago. He cites a recent Ipsos poll that indicates Governor A has a 13% approval rating.


  7. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    If I were a GOP strategist, I would be rooting for exactly what is happening right now.

    If the Illinois Democratic Party doesn’t want to pooper-scoop this governor’s messes, then let his stink be on their shoes this November.


  8. - wordslinger - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:43 am:

    Rep. Hassert’s comments are an example of the curious lack of GOP participation in the debate about the current Democratic administration — in an election year, no less.

    Shouldn’t alleged Democratic corruption be the rallying cry for the GOP’s November campaign? Or are they skittish because the names of big-time GOP money-men keep coming up in relation to the alleged schemes?

    Predictions: No recall amendment, no impeachment before November.


  9. - Little Egypt - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:49 am:

    Impeachment is just talk, just throwing out a bone to make us think the legislature is actually contemplating doing this. However, with the complete lack of leadership in the executive and legislative branches, there will not be a single move made toward impeachment until perhaps after the election. I believe that is when we will see the reps get huge injections of testosterone and steroids and finally begin formal impeachment proceedings. But these gutless wonders won’t do a thing until after November, IF then. It may be taken out of their hands if Fitz indicts POA beforehand but I’m not counting on that happening anytime soon. Fitz has a lot more rungs on the ladder to go before he can give Blago a TKO, and that’s what Fits is going after - an unappealable guilty verdict. Plus, I’m kind of enjoying seeing POA, Abby, and Rebecca sweat.


  10. - don't look down - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 11:50 am:

    somewhat related in yesterday’s Sun-Times. I thought it was interesting how many state employees-CMS in particular-came to Rezko’s aid to help him make bail.


  11. - Captain America - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:03 pm:

    I agree with VanMan’s observation that the GOP would be best served by the satuts quo, which is another reason that impeachment does not seem like a feasible option.


  12. - VanillaMan - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 12:46 pm:

    –Shouldn’t alleged Democratic corruption be the rallying cry for the GOP’s November campaign?–

    Not yet. The GOP doesn’t have enough money or power to start challenging now. So they have to wait and pretend to be sleeping so that the Democrats can believe it won’t be an issue. By September the GOP will have all these issues to play off of, plus the inactions of the Democrats up to that point.

    That is why smart Democrats should be moving recall and impeachment into action now. Voters are angry and will be angrier when they see nothing being done except tax hikes by Democrats.

    The GOP needs to keep what little powder they have dry until the see the whites of their target’s eyes.


  13. - Bluefish - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 2:12 pm:

    Out of curiousity - are the phones in the SDem offices ringing off their hooks right now or are people ignoring the Trib campaign?


  14. - Ivote - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 3:14 pm:

    If I were Speaker, about mid-May I’d have a resolution introduced to create a special committee to investigate whether enough information is available to warrant an Impeachment resolution. (It would no doubt pass handily!) As part of the resolution, I would limit the committee to meeting in Springfield on days when the General Assembly is in regular or special session. I’d call that resolution for a vote on May 29 — the last regular session day scheduled. There would be a budget agreement (and agreement on all other outstanding issues) in hours, if not minutes. No special session, no extended overtime. Nothing Rod could do about it; nothing Emil could do about it. And the Committee would just sit there. . . awaiting the next session day.


  15. - My Opinion - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 3:31 pm:

    Rich, your’re not kidding about the secretaries. . .all day long, and not very nice!


  16. - re: Ex-fugitive put up homes to spring Rezko - Monday, Apr 28, 08 @ 3:46 pm:

    Be interesting to know if any of these ’state employees’ putting up their homes for Rezko were ‘referred’ by Rezko?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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