Retry Rod Blagojevich
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is now a convicted felon — but not for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat or other blatant attempts to use his office to shake down constituents for money. And that’s too bad.
A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Blagojevich of one felony count of making false statements to the FBI. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for that conviction.
But the jury deadlocked 23 other charges against Blagojevich — counts that included the ex-governor’s clear intent to make money off the appointment of someone to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. FBI wiretaps of Blagojevich and his advisers after the 2008 election recorded the then-governor as saying about the Senate seat: “I’m not going to give it up for f…ing nothing.”
Even more damning were statements from various wealthy Illinois citizens and business leaders to the effect that Blagojevich and his staff demanded large campaign contributions in return for state approval of projects they wished to develop.
It is unfortunate that all 12 jurors didn’t see the evidence in those other 23 counts the same way and therefore didn’t vote to convict on any but one charge. But that’s certainly the jurors’ prerogative under our justice system.
Immediately after the jury verdict was handed down, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he would seek a retrial. He should, and not just to ensure Blagojevich receives the full measure of justice he so richly deserves.
Blagojevich should be retried — and convicted of multiple charges, we hope — to make it abundantly clear to other elected officials that this country won’t tolerate them turning their public trust into personal, money-making ventures.