* Seems like decades ago…
The predawn rousting of Gov. Rod Blagojevich from his Ravenswood Manor home Tuesday marked a stunning climax to a tale of alleged public corruption unmatched in Illinois’ storied history of elected scoundrels and thrust the state into an unprecedented political crisis.
Illinoisans awoke to news that their governor had been arrested, handcuffed and hauled before a federal magistrate on sweeping charges he conspired to sell his office many times over–including putting a price on the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald said the governor’s actions forced his office to intervene. “Gov. Blagojevich has been arrested in the middle of what we can only describe as a political corruption crime spree,” he said. Fitzgerald said Blagojevich’s “conduct would make [Abraham] Lincoln roll over in his grave.”
The well-coiffed governor, sporting a turtleneck beneath a blue Nike track suit and running shoes, was released on his own recognizance and walked out not only free, but still empowered to make an appointment to the Senate seat federal prosecutors say he tried to corrupt.
“They’re doing well. He’s sad, surprised and innocent,” Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky told reporters outside Blagojevich’s home Tuesday night.
Throughout the day, the halls of state government in Springfield and Chicago were humming with calls for his resignation or impeachment–and lawmakers planned an emergency session to schedule a special election and to strip the governor of his sole authority to fill the Senate post.
My website as well as those run by the Tribune and the Sun-Times all crashed that morning because of the traffic spike. Such crazy times.