Source: Governor's staff ready to resign

December 14, 2008 9:03:28 PM PST
After meeting for nearly eight hours Sunday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich appeared poised to retain one of the city's top criminal defense attorneys.Meanwhile, ABC7 has learned that some of the governor's staff members are said to be encouraging him to step aside.

Monday morning, will assemble in Springfield in an attempt to strip Blagojevich of his power to fill Barack Obama's vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

Top aides to the governor were weighing their options Sunday night. Among them was the possibility of resigning en masse to protest the alleged conduct of the governor.

A source says some of top deputies in the governor's office have already written letters of resignation, but have not yet turned them in, fearing their departure would further paralyze a state in crisis.

The governor's high-stakes game of hide-and-seek with the news media continued for a sixth straight day Sunday. Blagojevich spent much of his weekend huddled with criminal defense attorney Ed Genson, who appears poised to take the corruption case.

"I have to check some conflicts, but as of now, I believe I'll be retained," Genson said.

Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich, whose real estate transactions have come under scrutiny, sat in on part her husband's meeting with Genson.

After being asked if ABC7 should read anything into the first lady attending the meeting, Genson responded: "I have no comment."

However, plenty of other people were commenting Sunday. All over the national Sunday morning political shows, Governor Blagojevich and his future were front and center.

"We don't have a governor who can legitimately govern, and so, it has been imperative that we find a way to move forward," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told NBC's Meet the Press.

"We really feel our state is in need of reform, and the best way to get it is for the governor to resign," said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, also on Meet the Press.

ABC7 News has learned some of the governor's dozen or so top staff members are considering resigning. Others in the group fear a mass exodus at the top would leave the state further adrift.

One top aide says staff members are encouraging Blagojevich to step-aside, at least temporarily. In that scenario, the governor would still collect a paycheck, but the legislature would be able to block him from returning to office.

A spokesman for Blagojevich Sunday night said:

"The governor has indicated in the past there is more to this story that he's wanting to tell at an appropriate time... [he] has no plans on resigning Monday."

Technically, only the matter of calling a special election is on the agenda in Springfield Monday. However, for the first time since the scandal broke, powerful House Speaker Mike Madigan now says he plans to discuss impeachment with his Republican counterpart in the House.


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