Editorial: Blagojevich sentence should not be reduced

 
Posted7/28/2016 1:00 AM
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  • Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich departs his Chicago home for Littleton, Colorado, in March 2012 to begin his 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

    Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich departs his Chicago home for Littleton, Colorado, in March 2012 to begin his 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges. Associated Press File Photo

Just as we should be seeing the best the Democratic Party has to offer this week, we in Illinois got a sad reminder of one of the worst.

With Chicago native Michelle Obama wowing the Democratic National Convention Monday, and Park Ridge native Hillary Rodham Clinton becoming the first female nominee for president for a major political party Tuesday and President Obama speaking Wednesday night, Illinois is in the spotlight for all the right reasons at the Philadelphia convention.

But back home, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is making news again, reminding us all of the trouble he caused following Obama's election in 2008.

This week, prosecutors and defense attorneys filed new arguments on both sides of the question of whether the stiff 14-year sentence Blagojevich received in 2011 should be reduced in the wake of a federal appeals court last year throwing out five of his 18 corruption convictions.

In making the decision that Blagojevich's attempts to trade an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat left open by Obama for an appointment in the new president's administration did not break the law, the appeals court, however, also said the sentencing was not too harsh.

And so when U.S. District Judge James Zagel considers the request on Aug. 9, it's our hope that he listens to the appeals court and grants no leniency for the disgraced governor.

Prosecutors claim that Blagojevich has never taken responsibility or accepted that he broke the law. "(Blagojevich) suggested that the crimes of which he remained convicted involved nothing but common, everyday campaign fundraising -- at once minimizing his conduct (and) mischaracterizing the evidence of his guilt," they wrote.

Indeed his lawyers' filing confirms that opinion.

"Blagojevich openly admits that he made mistakes and used extremely poor judgment in the ways he carried out his fundraising duties," they wrote. "The crimes he stands convicted of today are undeniably less severe than the crimes he stood convicted of back in 2011."

This is just one more attempt for Blagojevich to claim his innocence, just as he did after his 2008 arrest, after his 2011 conviction and in a statement released from his prison cell last year. It belies the fact that the convictions that remain in place include one that he sought money for naming someone to Obama's open Senate seat.

The Blagojevich era was a sad reminder of how ambitious politicians can go bad and the sentence he received is a reminder that consequences of that blind ambition must be faced.

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