What is the basis of the charges? Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, is accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. He is currently out of jail on $4,500 bail. "He's sad, surprised and innocent," Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky told the press. FBI agents also arrested Blagojevich's chief of staff, John Harris. Ironically, Sheldon is probably right. If the charges are true, Blagojevich is probably incapable of being guilty. After all, who in their right mind believes that a governor can sell a Senate seat or a toll way. (See sale of the Indiana Toll Road by Governor Daniels.)
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are attempting to remove the governor's power to fill the vacant Senate seat. If Blagojevich won't sign the law, they will override his veto. Despite the charges, the Governor may still attempt to nominate someone for Obama's replacement. I suspect a nomination of Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney prosecuting charges against the Governor, would cement his case for an insanity defense. Somehow, I doubt that Mr. Fitzgerald would accept.
At first blush, the average citizen has got to wonder if any conversation can ever be considered private in the United States. The most incriminating statement may be when Blagojevich allegedly said of the Senate seat: "I've got this thing and it's [expletive] golden and uh, uh, I'm not just giving it up for [expletive] nothing." That alone tends to prove that the Governor needs to work on his linguistic skills.
Blagojevich, 52, is in his second four-year term as Illinois governor. He served as a U.S. congressman for Illinois' 5th Congressional District from 1997 until 2003. He has two daughters.
The state's last governor, George Ryan, was convicted in April 2006 on racketeering and fraud charges. Ryan reported to a federal prison in Wisconsin in November 2007 to serve a 6½-year sentence. RYAN LEGAL PUB STORY.
Update 6-2-10: The trial has begun. It could take up to 4 months. Adams one of the attorneys for ex Gov. Blagojevich seems to have a good sense of humor. The judge has ruled that the jurors identity will remain unpublished until after the trial. See comments for more details.