Rod Blagojevich had better contact a moving company soon, because Pat Quinn may shortly move into the governor’s mansion soon. The Illinois House voted unanimously to begin impeachment proceedings against Blagojevich, 113-0. His re-election co-chair took a shot at the beleaguered executive, describing his lack of surprise to hear about corruption charges:
The Illinois House launched its first-ever impeachment probe of a governor Monday, promising weeks of hearings detailing Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged abuse of power, from enacting massive programs without legislative approval to seeking to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
But the House also held off on calls to strip the disgraced governor of his power to appoint Obama’s successor, angering Republicans who accused Democrats of a power play aimed at protecting their dominance of state politics.
House lawmakers voted 113-0 to authorize a committee to investigate a host of pay-to-play allegations leveled against the governor, just six days after he was arrested by federal agents at his North Side home. The vote marked the unique circumstance of Democratic lawmakers leading a bid to displace Illinois’ first Democratic governor in a quarter-century.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, though co-chairing Blagojevich’s 2006 re-election bid in a symbol of party unity, has been a top critic of the governor. Asked about the criminal complaint against the governor, Madigan said, “I’ve had an opportunity to know Mr. Blagojevich for over six years so I was not surprised.”
Maybe Illinois voters would be surprised to know Madigan’s lack of surprise. Is Madigan in the habit of supporting corrupt politicians for high office? Wouldn’t the Democratic Party in Illinois have been better served by a principled stand against corruption and a refusal to take part in Blagojevich’s effort, especially considering the way his second term has apparently ended?
Of course, Michael Madigan has other fish to fry. His daughter Lisa serves as Attorney General and has her eyes on Blagojevich’s office, or possibly on the open Senate seat. She tried arguing to the Supreme Court that corruption is a disabling event that can justify removal from office outside of impeachment, which has been greeted with derisive laughter from all quarters. Madigan pere et fille have other agendas than clean government at the moment; they have a dynasty to build.
However, that still makes the inaction on the Senate seat somewhat inexplicable. Either the legislature has to change the law to hold a special election, or it has to temporarily strip Blagojevich of that power and give it to Quinn. Doing nothing leaves Blagojevich with the authority to make the appointment at any time. In fact, Blagojevich could appoint someone today, and apart from Harry Reid’s promise to keep the appointee from taking the seat, nothing could stop Blagojevich.
Best line of the day: “Talk of impeachment is nothing new to the governor.” That says volumes about Blagojevich and politics in the Land of Lincoln.
Update: RNC chair Mike Duncan reacts to Democratic obstruction on special elections:
“It’s extremely disappointing that Democratic leaders in Illinois are ignoring bipartisan calls for a special election to fill President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Considering the scandal surrounding Governor Rod Blagojevich’s administration, a special election is the only way to credibly fill the seat. I hope that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan puts good government before partisan politics, and will heed Senator Durbin’s call for a special election.”
They still have time to get it done, but now they’re complaining about the costs of a special election. I guess that seat really is a “f*****g valuable thing” after all.