This week’s blitz of television talk shows by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich wasn’t sufficient for him to keep his job. Neither was his last-minute appearance before the Illinois Senate trial on Blagojevich’s impeachment.
Members of the state Senate voted 59-0 to convict the governor and remove him from office Thursday evening.
Good for them. Blagojevich has made a mockery of his office by using it repeatedly to raise money for his own personal gain. That’s the only conclusion to be reached from the evidence presented at his impeachment trial and in an FBI affidavit.
Blagojevich’s appearance before the Senate Thursday didn’t change anything. It reinforced Senators’ belief he was hamstringing state government.
“He reminded us today in real detail that he is an unusually good liar,” said state Sen. Matt Murphy, after Blagojevich had spoken. “It’s pretty clear that he extorted or attempted to extort. He came down and wrapped himself in the Constitution. He’s a hypocrite.”
Senators might have been more sympathetic if the governor had been willing to answer questions. But he refused to be sworn in as a witness or to testify before a prosecutor.
Instead, he repeatedly proclaimed his innocence, called the trial unfair and declared he was being prosecuted because he fought for Illinois citizens.
Perhaps Blagojevich was referring to his fight to obtain money from the owner of a horse-racing track in Illinois in exchange for the governor’s signature on legislation supported by race-track owners. The Senate heard taped conversations of Blagojevich involved in that transaction earlier this week.
Or maybe Blagojevich was referring to his frequently stated desire to trade a U.S. Senate seat for money or plum jobs for himself and his wife. Those conversations were also caught on FBI tape.
Blagojevich still faces a criminal trial for his actions. But the Illinois Senate did the right thing in removing him before Blagojevich’s antics further harm state government.