Legislators vote to impeach Blagojevich
The Illinois House of Representatives on Friday voted overwhelmingly to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges that include allegedly trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Legislators impeached Blagojevich by a vote of 114 to 1. Rep. Milton Patterson, a Chicago Democrat, made the sole vote against impeaching the governor.
Blagojevich is the first governor in Illinois’s history to be impeached, and his case now goes to the state Senate for trial.
Blagojevich was out jogging in his Chicago neighborhood as lawmakers in Springfield voted to impeach him. He declined to answer any specific questions about the vote, but upon returning from his jog, he likened his situation to long-distance running.
“Let me simply say I feel like the old Alan Sillitoe short story, ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner.’ … And that’s what this is by the way, a long-distance run,” he said.
Before the vote, lawmakers lined up to criticize the governor and expressed rage and humiliation over his alleged behavior.
“Due to his conduct, the governor has failed to uphold the oath of office,” said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, chair of the House panel that held impeachment hearings over the past several weeks. “He is no longer capable of defending our liberties. He should be impeached.”
Blagojevich had been under investigation by the FBI for some time and had been subjected to a wiretap. It is alleged the conversations show that Blagojevich was trying to use the seat to get himself or his wife a job.
He was arrested on December 9 on charges of corruption and abuse of power. He has denied all the allegations.
The governor defied his party by appointing Roland Burris, a 71-year-old African American, to Obama’s vacated seat. The Democrats initially said that the appointment would not stand, but it soon became clear they had no apparent Constitutional grounds on which to prevent the appointment.