The Illinois General Assembly is planning to return to Springfield next week.
The idea is to change state law so that Gov. Rod Blagojevich cannot appoint Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate replacement.
That may nor may not be a good idea. The first problem that springs to mind is that Blagojevich, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to auction Obama’s vacant seat to the highest bidder, would have to sign the bill into law.
Our jailbird governor could sit on any bill for 60 days before he does anything. And he might just veto it, which would only prolong the process.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin supports the idea of a special election. But the Democratic campaign consultants I’ve talked to are worried to death that a Republican like moderate Congressman Mark Kirk could win a special election because Blagojevich’s arrest and subsequent prosecution could easily ruin a Democratic candidate.
Still, that’s neither here nor there.
The bottom line is that Obama’s replacement can wait a while.
What Illinois needs most right now is to excise this fatal tumor on our body politic.
Rod Blagojevich has been an astoundingly bad governor. His list of achievements is short and unimpressive. He has alienated almost the entire political establishment in Illinois. He is currently the most unpopular governor in the United States. And now we learn that he allegedly tried to sell a U.S. Senate seat, “like a sports agent,” according to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Illinois has, according to Fitzgerald, been subjected to a “political corruption crime spree.”
It’s time for that crime spree to end.
The Illinois House needs to convene as soon as possible and begin impeachment proceedings. Fitzgerald’s criminal complaint has basically given the General Assembly a 78-page road map.
We’re not talking a lot of hearsay. Much of Fitzgerald’s criminal complaint is composed of the governor’s own words caught on federal surveillance tapes.
All the House has to do is stipulate that Blagojevich’s words caught on tape are facts and then vote on whether that should be an impeachable offense.
For instance, the governor is quoted as saying this about Obama’s people refusing to go along with a quid pro quo for the U.S. Senate seat
appointment: “They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F--- them.”
Here’s our governor talking about using the Senate appointment for financial gain: “(T)he immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off
of our family.”
The governor sure has a way with words: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f------ golden and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f------ nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”
Blagojevich was also caught talking about using $8 million in state pediatric
funding to extract a $50,000 campaign contribution from Children’s Memorial Hospital: “I’m going to do $8 million for them. I want to get [Hospital Executive 1] for 50.”
There’s more, but you’ve probably already read most of the quotes yourself.
The Illinois Constitution’s guidelines for impeachment are pretty bare bones. Impeachment requires just a
majority vote in the House. There’s no “high crimes and misdemeanors” language as in the U.S. Constitution.
After the House votes to impeach, a two-thirds vote in the Senate is all that’s needed to remove Blagojevich from office.
And then he’d be gone. Forever.
Blagojevich’s attorney said Tuesday that his client did nothing wrong and has no intention
to resign. He’s expected to be back in his office this week.
Knowing him as I do, I am absolutely sure that Gov. Blagojevich thinks he’s in the clear. So nothing will stop this man except impeachment. This necessity can no longer be delayed.
Get it over with.
Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.