Lawmakers recommendation: Impeach Blagojevich
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich should be impeached for failing to put the state's interests before his own and losing the citizens' confidence, an Illinois House panel investigating the governor recommends in a report published this morning.
The lengthy, 59-page report details the governor's December arrest on federal conspiracy charges along with a litany of complaints that Blagojevich ignored constitutional responsibilities in spending taxpayer money and broke hiring laws.
It concludes with these comments and recommendation:
"The state is at a critical juncture. The governor faces an array of criminal charges related to his official conduct as governor. The governor's appointment of a U.S. Senator, pursuant to a valid state law, has been questioned because of a lack of trust in the governor. The federal government no longer trusts the governor with vital security information to which other governors routinely have access. Our state's and nation's highest elected officers have asked the governor to resign. The drop in bond ratings will cost the state millions of dollars because of the governor's arrest. Whether the people of this state retain confidence in the governor is a question that each member of this committee, and perhaps the full House, must answer.
In the face of all of this, the governor has essentially remained silent on the subject of his legal problems. He has given no detailed explanation for any of the allegations, only generally proclaiming his innocence. Like any citizen, the governor is entitled to his day in criminal court. But he is no ordinary citizen. He is the supreme executive officer of this state. The citizens of this state must 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."
"For all the reasons stated in this report and the evidence contained in the record before the committee, the Special Investigative Committee for the Illinois House of Representatives, 95th General Assembly finds that the totality of the evidence warrants the impeachment of the governor for cause.
The committee, therefore, recommends that the House consider an Article of Impeachment against the governor."
A Blagojevich spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The proposed report goes before the full impeachment panel this afternoon. The panel convenes at 3 p.m. and Roland Burris, Blagojevich's pick to serve out President-elect Barack Obama's term in the U.S. Senate, has been subpoenaed to testify about his dealings with Blagojevich and the controversial appointment.
The report's release sets up a possible impeachment vote in the House in the coming days. Lawmakers are returning to the Capitol today and have been told they may be in session all weekend.
If 60 of 118 House members vote to impeach, the House will send the case onto the Illinois Senate for a trial. It would take the support of 40 of the 59 senators to convict and remove the governor. The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court would preside over such a trial in the Seante.
Complicating matters is that this version of the General Assembly expires next week when new lawmakers are sworn in Jan. 14 and all previous action is voided. It raises the likelihood that if the House votes in impeach in the coming days, it may have to do so again after the 14th in order to send a valid case onto the Senate.