Former governor convicted of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat
Tuesday 28 June 2011
Rod Blagojevich yesterday became the fourth Illinois governor in just half a century to be convicted of committing a crime, when he was found guilty on a host of corruption charges, including an attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became President.
The verdict handed down by a federal court in Chicago brings down the curtain on an extraordinarily garish political career. The case hinged on FBI wiretaps of the profane and populist governor in which he demanded bribes for favours, most notoriously over Mr Obama's former seat, which had to be filled by an appointee named by the governor.
That right, Mr Blagojevich was caught saying in one call played to the court during his trial, was "golden" and that he wouldn't let it go "for nothing". Wiretap after wiretap seemed to show a governor bent only on turning his office into a source of money.
Arrested in December 2008 and removed from the governorship by impeachment the following month, Mr Blagojevich was convicted at a first trial on just one count, with the jury deadlocked on the rest. The outcome of the retrial, however, was unequivocal: conviction on 17 of 20 counts.
Shocked into something close to silence by the verdict, Mr Blagojevich asked his attorney: "What happened?" As he left the court, he told reporters he was going home to "talk to our little girls and explain things to them and then try to sort things out".
Realistically, his message to his daughters, aged 7 and 13, will be bleak. A sentencing date has yet to be set, but the former governor, who is 54, faces up to 300 years in jail for crimes ranging from mail fraud to extortion and soliciting bribes. His punishment will certainly be less, but Mr Blagojevich may have to spend much of the rest of his life behind bars.
If so it will be an ignominious end to a political career in the state that also gave America arguably its greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. First elected in 2002, Mr Blagojevich won a second term in 2006. But two years later he could claim the unofficial title of "America's most unpopular governor", with only 4 per cent of Illinois voters approving of his job performance.
After being impeached, he demeaned his former office further, sending his wife to the jungle for reality TV show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. So poor were his managerial skills that he found himself fired on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice.
Mr Blagojevich's conduct "would make Lincoln roll over in his grave", federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said when the former governor was first arrested in 2008. Such has been the track record of recent Illinois chief executives that some have joked of a special "governors' wing" at the state prison at Joliet, near Chicago.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£77099.84 - £96375.26 per annum + Bonus + Benefits : Harrington Starr: My clie...
£45000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Package: Harrington Starr: Trading appli...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...