Gov. Blagojevich overwhelmingly impeached

January 10, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The Illinois House voted Friday to impeach disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and send him to trial in the Senate. The state’s 40th chief executive was arrested on corruption charges on Dec. 9, but lawmakers unloaded six years of grievances in a swift and overwhelming 114-1 vote. Their action made the two-term Democrat the first governor to be impeached in state history.

Representatives cast aside Blagojevich’s declarations of innocence, saying there was no place in government for a man who ran roughshod over the legislature, wasted millions of dollars in state money and sought to sell everything from state contracts to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

“It’s our duty to clean up the mess and to stop the freak show which has become Illinois government,” said Rep. Jack Franks (D- Marengo), a longtime Blagojevich critic. Blagojevich’s predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is currently in a federal penitentiary.

Hours later the defiant  Blagojevich held a news conference at his Chicago office, where he predicted his exoneration and blamed House lawmakers for siding with lobbyists and special interests who want him tossed out because he expanded health care and other programs.

The House is scheduled to revote its impeachment of Blagojevich on Wednesday as a technical matter when the new General Assembly is sworn in to reflect the results of the Nov. 4 election. Ironically as part of the inauguration of the new legislature, Blagojevich is constitutionally required to preside over the swearing-in of senators—in essence overseeing the lawmakers who will act as his judge and jury. That sets the stage for the first impeachment trial in the state Senate in more than 175 years, since senators failed to convict an Illinois Supreme Court justice accused of profiting from politically related court appointments.

The Senate trial is expected to begin Jan. 26, and it would take the votes of 40 of the 59-member Illinois Senate to convict Blagojevich and remove him from office. If they convict, senators could impose a political death penalty—requiring the same 40 votes to prevent him from holding any future state office. The House impeachment vote called for all three penalties: conviction, removal and disqualification from future state office.


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