House committee recommends impeachment

January 8, 2009 9:12:07 PM PST
Rod Blagojevich is a major step closer to becoming the first Illinois governor to be impeached.Members of the House committee investigating him voted unanimously on Thursday evening for impeachment.

The full House is expected to vote on Friday.

The governor didn't talk on Thursday evening but his office did release the following statement:

"Today's vote was not a surprise. The outcome was a foregone conclusion especially when you consider the committee released its report hours before wrapping up testimony."

"The governor believes that the impeachment proceedings were flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law. His team was not allowed to subpoena witnesses, they were never allowed to cross examine people and never given the chance to put on any kind of defense."

"In all, the governor's rights to due process were deprived. When the case moves to the senate, an actual judge will preside over the hearings, and the governor believes the outcome will be much different."


It took less than an hour for the 21 committee members to make their speeches and cast their votes. All agreed there is enough evidence against Rod Blagojevich to warrant a Senate trial.

"This is a sad day here in the state of illinois. It's unfortunate that it had to get to this," said Il. Rep. Mary Flowers, (D) Chicago.

"He has willfully violated court orders. He has driven our state to the edge of the abyss," said Il. Rep. Jack Franks, (D) Woodstock.

The twelve Democrats and nine Republicans were empanelled December 15, six days after Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges. The pace of their work quickened on December 30 when the governor appointed Roland Burris to the U.S. senate despite the federal charge that Blagojevich was trying to sell the vacant seat. Burris was the final witness to testify before the committee voted.

"I have nothing to hide. I am a hard-working public servant," said Burris, Senate appointee.

A draft report was released on the internet hours before Burris testified. It listed alleged abuses of power dating back six years, evidence of pay to play politics and the current Federal charges. And the incomplete document included a finding that "the totality of the evidence warrants the impeachment of the governor for cause."

"The hard-working people of the state of Illinois deserve public servants, not self-servants," said Rep. Roger Eddy, (R) (R) Hutonsville.

"The state of Illinois operates under democracy. It does not operate under a dictatorship," said Rep. Monique Davis, (D) Chicago.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a longtime Blagojevich opponent, was pleased with the panel's work.

"I stood in opposition to Blagojevich...many times alone," said Mike Madigan, House speaker.

When the full House reconvenes in the morning, resolution 1671 will be introduced. And after hours of speeches the 118 members are expected to make Illinois history.

"It's pretty powerful what's probably going to happen tomorrow, and that will be an impeachment of the governor of the state of Illinois," said Minority Leader Tom Cross, (R).