Follow-Up on Blagojevich Saga
The drama continues in Illinois, following last week's arrest of Governor Blagojevich on charges of soliciting bribes in connection with an attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama. For starters, Blagojevich's arrest has lead to a bit of a family feud between Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan and his daughter Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General, writes Cornell Professor William Jacobson at his blog, Legal Insurrection. While daughter Lisa sought emergency intervention of the Illinois Supreme Court to strip Blagojevich of his executive powers (and thus, deprive him of the ability to name a successor to Obama's seat), dad Michael took a more measured approach by stalling impeachment proceedings. Jacobson predicts that Speaker Madigan's actions will undermine the core of AG Madigan's lawsuit, explaining that:
The fact that the legislature chose not even to convene a committee for six days reflects that the legislature does not see any emergency. A need to remove Gov. Bagojevich, yes; the sky could fall at any moment, no. If the political branch of government does not see an emergency, why should the judicial branch undertake emergency relief to resolve what essentially is a political question?
In the meantime, having evaded impeachment, at least temporarily, might Blagojevich also evade a conviction? Today's New York Times reports that Blagojevich's case may not be as strong as prosecutor Fitzgerald would have the public believe. To convict Blagojevich, the prosecution must show that he actually received something of value in exchange for the seat, and to date, there is no evidence that the governor actually received anything of value. From the article:
Most agree that it would be legal for the governor to accept a campaign contribution from someone he appointed to the Senate seat. What would create legal problems for him is if he was tape-recorded specifically offering a seat in exchange for the contribution. What would make the case even easier to prosecute is if he was recorded offering the seat in exchange for a personal favor, like cash, a job or a job for a family member. Indeed the government has claimed the wiretaps show that Mr. Blagojevich told his aides that he wanted to offer the seat in exchange for contributions and for personal favors, including jobs for himself and his wife.
But talk is not enough. Any case will ultimately turn on the strength of the tapes, and whether the governor made it clear to any of the candidates for the Senate seat that he would give it only in exchange for something of value.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 16, 2008 at 05:23 PM | Permalink
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