29 June 2011
Former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted this week on a wide range of corruption charges, including eight “wire frauds” relating to attempts “sell” President Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
Despite campaigning about his innocence on reality TV shows since being charged two years ago, and having deadlocked the jury in his first trial, he was convicted in the second trial on 17 of 20 charges. Sentencing guidelines indicate that he is likely to be imprisoned for ten years when he returns to court on 1 August.
Blagojevich is the second successive Illinois governor to be convicted of corruption. His predecessor is currently in prison.
Officials in Illinois now seem united in criticising the former Governor’s conduct. The current governor has commented that Blagojevich “deceived everyone. … he committed crimes, according to a jury, a good 12 men and woman, good and true, and so did George Ryan. And they’re going to both be in jail. I think it should be an alarm bell to all of us in Illinois, in government and outside of government, to work together to strengthen our democracy.”
The Attorney General said that Blagojevich “grossly violated the public’s trust by pursuing his own interests over those of the state. The jury’s decision has reaffirmed that public servants work for the people and must pay a serious price if they fail to uphold the solemn duties of their office.”
The Cook Country Board President commented that “Our country is founded on the rule of law, and ( the conviction of ) Blagojevich … will send a clear message to the … nation: Corruption no longer has a place in our political system…. We need to put our energies into demanding more accountable and responsible government…”