SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, in an opinion filed Thursday, said former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's felony convictions make him ineligible for any state retirement benefits.
Madigan, in a letter to Timothy Blair, executive director of the General Assembly Retirement System, said Blagojevich forfeited his pension benefits under a section of the state's Pension Code.
All 18 of his felony convictions "clearly arose out of and in connection with his service as governor of the state of Illinois," the attorney general wrote.
Blagojevich, who served as the state's 40th governor from 2003 to 2009, was arrested in 2009 on federal corruption charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
The Illinois House of Representatives later voted to impeach Blagojevich for corruption and misconduct in office.
On Wednesday, the former governor was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.
Section 2-156 of Illinois' Pension Code requires the forfeiture of a participant's retirement annuities and other pension benefits upon his or her conviction of a service-related felony.
"The purpose of this provision is self-evident. It exists to deter officials in whom the public places its trust from violating that trust for their own unlawful ends," Madigan wrote.
The attorney general said it is "beyond dispute" that the former governor's convictions related to or arose out of and were in connection to his time in office.
"The facts underlying the charges and the juries' verdicts demonstrate that Blagojevich repeatedly misused his position as governor in an effort to obtain financial benefits for himself, his wife and his political campaign committee," she wrote.
"But for his status as governor and the powers of that office, Blagojevich would never have been in a position to commit the criminal acts underlying the 18 counts on which he was found guilty."
Madigan said Blagojevich "repeatedly traded" on his position as a public servant for his "own, unlawful ends, violating public trust."
"This is precisely the illegal conduct that section 2-156 exists to deter," she wrote in her 10-page opinion.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.