Legislative panel: Illinois governor should be impeached

By Chris Rizo | Jan 8, 2009

Rod Blagojevich (D)

Lisa Madigan (D)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline)- The Illinois House panel investigating Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday recommended that the embattled governor be impeached.

The 69-page draft report says Illinoisans should have confidence that their governor will "faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own. It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so."

Last month, the two-term governor was arrested for allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama in exchange for political favors.

The House report said the "totality of the evidence warrants the impeachment of the governor for cause."

Three weeks after his arrest, Blagojevich appointed former state Attorney General Roland Burris to Obama's seat. Burris, a Democrat, is to appear before the impeachment committee today.

The draft House report is expected to be voted upon by the 21-member committee by week's end. If adopted, the recommendation for impeachment would go to the full House for a vote.

If the House concurs, the matter would go the Senate, where a non-criminal trial would be held to determine if the governor should be removed from office.

In their report, committee members said the governor has refused to appear before the panel to rebut the allegations federal authorities have levied against him.

"While the governor's silence could not be held against him in a criminal case, the opposite is true in a non-criminal proceeding such as this impeachment inquiry," the report said.

For his part, Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing and has refused to leave office. State Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a fellow Democrat, unsuccessfully sought to have the governor ousted from office by the state Supreme Court.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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