Local leaders, legislators await Blagojevich Senate trial

By Gus Bode

As the state Senate prepares to carry out the proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, southern Illinois leaders expressed their disgust with Blagojevich and sadness that such events transpired.

The Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1 to remove Blagojevich Friday, one month after he was arrested on corruption charges. The process now moves to the senate, where the 59 legislators and Chief Justice Robert Thomas of the Illinois Supreme Court will conduct an impeachment trial.

‘I don’t think anyone in our state wants to see something like this happen,’ said SIU President Glenn Poshard, a former U.S. Congressman and Illinois gubernatorial candidate. ‘I’ve worked with every legislative leader in this state and every executive leader in this state for over 20 years. It doesn’t give me any joy to see anyone, the governor or anyone else, indicted.


‘I’m assuming he’ll probably be convicted by the Senate,’ Poshard said.

Sen. David Luechtefeld, a Republican from Okawville whose district includes Carbondale, said two weeks have been reserved for the trial starting Jan. 26. At least two-thirds of the Senate must vote in favor of the governor’s impeachment if Blagojevich were removed from office. If the Senate conducts a two-week trial, Blagojevich could be forced from office on Feb. 9.

Blagojevich has said repeatedly he does not intend to resign.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Carbondale, also voted in favor of Blagojevich’s impeachment Thursday during the final meeting of the House committee investigating whether there was significant reason to impeach the governor. Bost said the committee listed multiple reasons, including some not mentioned in the federal charges against Blagojevich, for impeachment.

Luechtefeld said the proceedings have been unprecedented and ‘extremely embarrassing.’ But he said not all of the state’s problems could be blamed on Blagojevich.

‘There will be an attempt to blame it all on Rod Blagojevich,’ he said. ‘He has only been a part of it.’

Following Friday’s vote, Illinois Republican Chairman Andrew McKenna said in a written statement that the Democrats should be ashamed for enabling Blagojevich during the past six years.


‘That’s a joke,’ said Rep. John Bradley, a Marion Democrat. ‘As I recall, there were many times the House Democrats stood up to the governor, so I don’t want to hear that.’

Rep. Milton Patterson, a Democrat from Chicago and SIUC alumnus, was the only legislator to vote against impeachment. Patterson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Friday there was not enough evidence to condemn Blagojevich.

Blagojevich was arrested at his Chicago home Dec. 9 and charged with conspiring with chief of staff John Harris to obtain campaign contributions from potential candidates for Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat in exchange for their appointment to the seat. He has also been charged with attempting to blackmail the Tribune Company to have the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board fired and shaking down individuals for campaign contributions in exchange for state contracts.

Daily Egyptian reporter Barton Lorimor can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected].