Lisa Madigan (D)
Rod Blagojevich (D)
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Tuesday called on fellow Democrat embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign, saying it is clear he cannot effectively govern the state.
The popular attorney general made her call the same day the second-term governor was arrested 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 men face as much as 20 years in prison if convicted on the fraud charge and 10 years for the bribery charge.
"Today, our worst fears have been realized. Once again, the people of Illinois have learned that a governor has engaged in a shockingly flagrant scheme to sell his power and authority to the highest bidder," Madigan said. "The conduct is especially outrageous and truly demonstrates a new level of corruption given that Governor Blagojevich has been the subject of ongoing criminal investigations for years."
Blagojevich, 51, who has been the target of federal probes for months, was accused by investigators of threatening to withhold financial assistance from the state to the now-bankrupt Tribune Company to induce the firings of editorial board members at the Chicago Tribune who are sharply critical of him.
"Yet, undaunted by these investigations, Governor Blagojevich decided to undertake schemes to sell the U.S. Senate seat, to sell his signature on legislation, and to interfere in financing deals - all in an effort to obtain personal and political benefits," Madigan said.
Public officials are "elected to serve the people of this state and to uphold the trust of the people who have elected them," she added.
Blagojevich is the second Illinois governor in a row to be indicted.
In 2006, a federal jury convicted Republican former Gov. George Ryan of accepting gifts and trips exchange for political favors. He was sentenced to more than six years in prison.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the state Legislature ought to act quickly to pass legislation setting a special election to fill Obama's seat so to prevent Blagojevich from making a appointment to the seat.
From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.