Governor's self-interest drops Madigan from suit: critic

Legal News Line Mar. 5, 2007, 10:38am

Lisa Madigan

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's move to dump Attorney General Lisa Madigan as his advocate in a controversial case is taking a hammering. Moving to replace Madigan with his choice of counsel in a Freedom of Information case, Blagojevich is "acting in his own self-interest," wrote Daily Southtown editorial columnist Phil Kadner. Kadner's column, entitled "Blagojevich refuses to obey state public records act," appears in today's edition. It's based on a Freedom of Information case in which Madigan's office has already ruled that the Governor must make the documents in question public. The governor, Kadner wrote, "wants a new lawyer so he can keep public documents a secret. These are documents that could well expose corruption at the highest levels of the state government and might even indicate the governor's involvement." Blagojevich, in dumping Madigan as his advocate, is "trying to limit the damage that would be caused if people continue to probe allegations of corruption in his administration," Kadner added. The case revolves around an effort by a public-interest group to make public Federal subpoenas the governor received early last year. The subpoenas supposedly relate to an investigation of questionable hiring practices by the governor's office. Blogojevich last year turned down a request by the Better Government Association (BGA) to make the subpoenas public and disingenuously refused to confirm or deny their existence. The BGA then sought the advice of Madigan's office, which ordered the Governor to produce the subpoenas. When Blagojevich again refused, the BGA filed suit to make the documents public. In such a suit the attorney general would ordinarily represent the governor. However, as Kadner wryly notes in this case: "the attorney general, a fellow Democrat, is sworn to uphold the laws of this state." In seeking his own lawyer, concluded Kadner, "the governor is not conducting his office in the public's interest here. He is trying to protect himself."

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