AG threatens to seek indicted governor's ouster
Lisa Madigan (D)
Rod Blagojevich (D)
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Wednesday reiterated her call for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign amid his federal indictment, threatening to go to the state Supreme Court to oust her fellow Democrat.
Madigan said if the governor does not voluntarily leave office, she could petition the state Supreme Court, saying two-term Blagojevich is unfit for public office.
The 51-year-old governor was arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. The two face as much as 20 years in prison if convicted on the fraud charge and 10 years for the bribery charge.
"Right now, obviously the hope is that the governor would recognize that he needs to move aside, he needs to resign. He is incapable of governing. But at this point he shows no interest in resigning," Madigan said in an appearance on the Fox News Channel.
The attorney general said state lawmakers are going back into session next week, noting they can take up impeachment proceedings against the embattled governor at that time, if necessary. Lawmakers are also expected to pass legislation that would bar Blagojevich from making a tainted appointment to the Senate.
Madigan also disclosed she was one of the candidates the governor was considering naming as the Senate successor to Obama. The FBI affidavit against the governor refers to six possible appointees by number.
She said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald told her she is Candidate No. 2, listed in the complaint against the governor. The attorney general added that she did not express any interest in Obama's former seat, and that she has kept her distance from the governor.
"This will sound odd to you and it's very unfortunate, but I have no relationship with the governor, which obviously makes my job as attorney general rather difficult because I do represent the state of Illinois," Madigan said. "But, nonetheless, that pall has been for many, many years."
For his part, Obama has joined the chorus of officials calling on Blagojevich to leave office.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.