First public statement from gov. expected

December 18, 2008 8:34:47 PM PST
On Friday, Gov. Blagojevich is expected to make his first public statement about his arrest and the charges against him. On Thursday, at the impeachment hearing in Springfield his attorney launched an attack on the government's case.

Federal investigators illegally monitored Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's phone conversations, according to what the governor's attorney told the special legislative committee on impeachment.

Before Rod Blagojevich left his North Side home on Thursday morning, his spokesman advised reporters that they should not expect the governor to make a promised public statement on his legal troubles on Thursday.

"I can tell you, it's not today. I'll let you know before it happens," said Lucio Guerrero, governor's spokesman.

Meanwhile, in Springfield the House committee studied the possible impeachment of the governor questioned bureaucrats. The lawmakers focused on allegations that Blagojevich, during his six years in office, had exceeded his authority on several occasions.

"This committee will have to determine if this is an issue we want to bring forward. The governor's office did not follow the law," said Rep. Lou Lang, (D) Skokie.

The governor's lawyers also questioned the witnesses. At one point, lead defense counsel Ed Genson challenged the committee's use of evidence gathered by federal wiretaps that Genson suggested may have been obtained illegally.

"There has to be a series of requirements that must be complied with before wiretap evidence can be admitted. We have no proof that this was complied with," said Genson.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose Supreme Court motion to declare the governor unfit to serve was denied by the justices on Wednesday, has refused to represent the governor or pay his legal expenses in neither his criminal case nor his possible impeachment. And with the federal government reportedly ready to freeze Blagojevich's $3.6 million campaign fund Genson's fees could be in jeopardy. But on Thursday morning, he told ABC7's Andy Shaw he wasn't in it for the money.

"If I chose my cases based on who paid me and how much, I wouldn't have any," said Genson.

Madigan refuses Blago representation

Ill. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan has refused to provide or pay for counsel for the governor for impeachment proceedings.

That news comes as Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich may soon have a hard time coming up with the money to pay for his defense. There are reports that federal prosecutors are moving to freeze his campaign fund, money that could have been used to pay his lawyers.

Under Illinois law, the attorney general must represent state officials in court.

The request came from Blagojevich attorney Ed Genson. He says that either Madigan has to represent him or the state has to pay for his legal defense.

The attorney general's office says the request is without merit simply because the impeachment proceedings are not taking place in court.

Madigan made a request to the Illinois Supreme Court last week to have the governor declared unfit. That request was denied.

In Springfield, the committee holding impeachment hearings was meeting again Thursday morning.

Wednesday's combative and, at times, entertaining impeachment hearing focused on the criminal charges against Governor Blagojevich and those secret FBI recordings of profanity-laced conversations with friends and advisors. The hearing has been described by Genson as Alice in Wonderland and a witch hunt.

Day Two may be tamer because of the subject matter. They will be talking about alleged abuse and misuse of power by the governor in spending millions of state tax dollars on healthcare programs without legislative approval, and at times even after lawmakers ordered them not to spend the money.

The governor's argument has always been that he did it to help people.

"I didn't particularly want to be a special assistant," Genson said. "I have no recollection of ever receiving money from the state for anything. That's not what I do. It just appeared to me that Lisa Madigan had an obligation, at least in these proceedings, to defend the governor. She chose not to. Just as she appointed a special prosecutor to prosecute them, then appoint a special prosecutor to defend."

The feds are moving to freeze Blagojevich's campaign funds, as they did to George Ryan. If that happens, Genson's source of income as a lawyer who deserves to be paid may dry up.

"This is the way it is," Genson said. "I will defend him either way. The fact of the matter is, if I chose my cases based on who pays me and how much, I wouldn't have any fun."

Genson said Wednesday and repeated again Thursday that he took the case, " for fun," although he was quick to add that it's probably not fun for Rod Blagojevich.

After Thursday's hearing, the impeachment procedures will probably adjourn for the weekend because of the weather. It will be tough for traveling. The committee members were eager to get back to their districts to do some Christmas shopping and attend some Christmas parties. But they will probably resume next Monday. There will probably be hearings Monday and Tuesday. Then they will take another break for Christmas.

The hearings could be wrapped up before the end of the year.


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