Court rejects challenge to Blagojevich

AG disappointed in decision
December 17, 2008 8:29:49 PM PST
The Illinois Supreme Court rejected an attempt to have Gov. Rod Blagojevich declared unfit to hold office on Wednesday. Also, on Wednesday night, the Chicago Sun Times reported that federal authorities are planning to freeze campaign funds for Blagojevich hampering his ability to use the money for his legal bills that are mounting everyday.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued his legal and political troubles are keeping him from performing his duties, but the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the challenge without issuing further comment.

The latest development came just hours after Governor Blagojevich told reporters that he is "dying to talk" about the case against him.

The attorney general presented her case to the state's highest court last Friday. On Wednesday, the justices wrote that Lisa Madigan's "temporary restraining order and or preliminary injunction is denied". There was no further comment by the court.

The governor did not seem concerned that a ruling one way or the other was eminent as he went out for a morning run Wednesday. It was the first time in eight days that Blagojevich spoke several sentences at once to the news media at his Ravenswood Manor home.

"I can't wait to begin to tell my side of the story. And to address you guys and, most importantly, the people of Illinois. That's who I'm dying to talk to," said Gov. Blagojevich.

At the Thompson Center, the governor's press aide spoke to Blagojevich by phone. Lucio Guerrero said from what he heard in the conversation there was nothing definite about a public statement later this week.

"I think, as you guys can see, he wants to say something to the people of Illinois. And I anticipate like he said if he wants to, he will probably try to do it either the end of this week or next week," said Lucio Guerrero

The governor's lawyer--Edward Genson--was in Springfield Wednesday before an Illinois House committee studying a possible impeachment resolution. He said the state should pay Blagojevich's legal expenses and Attorney General Madigan should be disqualified from representing the governor because of a conflict of interest.

Also on Wednesday, there was a rare show of support for the embattled Illinois chief executive. A small group of demonstrators praised the governor's work to help sick children in the Latino community.

"Rod Blagojevich has always prided himself on being a son of an immigrant and he has never turned back his back on the immigrant community here," said Julie Santos, United Voices for United Families.

The attorney general said in a statement she is hopeful the General Assembly will act with deliberate speed.

Statement from Attorney General Lisa Madigan

I am disappointed in the Illinois Supreme Court's decision.

Because of Governor Blagojevich's refusal to resign, the State of Illinois is in an unsustainable situation. The serious criminal charges against Governor Blagojevich strike directly at the heart of his decision-making process and seriously impede his ability to legitimately exercise the powers of his office. Thus, while the U.S. Attorney's Office and the impeachment process move forward, the State is left with a Governor who cannot make effective decisions on critical and time-sensitive issues.

The Illinois Constitution expressly gives the Supreme Court the authority to determine whether the Governor has the ability to serve. Given this constitutional provision, on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, I sought relief in the Illinois Supreme Court to temporarily remove Governor Blagojevich so that the State could continue to function while the U.S. Attorney and the General Assembly proceed. The Constitution does not require the Illinois Supreme Court to act.

I am hopeful that the General Assembly will act with deliberate speed. It is imperative that we begin to restore the People's confidence in their government.

Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn also said he's disappointed with the court's decision.

"The governor has to realize the people of Illinois do not have patience for his defiance. He has lost all public support. Our state has public safety issues, economic issues, health issues that must be attended to by a full-time governor. He is not that person and it's time for him to go," said Lt. Quinn.


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