Blagojevich Impeached

In the end, it wasn’t even close.

The Illinois House voted overwhelmingly Friday to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich, an unprecedented action that sets up a Senate trial on whether he should be thrown out for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

Impeachment required just 60 votes. The final result was 114-1.

Legislators accused the second-term Democratic governor of letting down the people of Illinois by letting ego and ambition drive his decisions.

[…]

The committee on Thursday unanimously recommended impeachment based on the criminal charges but other allegations as well — that Blagojevich expanded a health care program without proper authority, that he circumvented hiring laws to give jobs to political allies, that he spent millions of dollars on foreign flu vaccine that he knew wasn’t needed and couldn’t be brought into the country.

This is the right outcome but the wrong process. While impeachment is not a criminal trial and the Illinois House can, in practice, impeach for whatever it wants, the intent was that it be reserved for criminal conduct. While I have little doubt that Blagojevich committed crimes, he was impeached for unpopular policies. That’s a decidedly bad precedent.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. @tcotreport : Blago impeached. Vote 114 – 1 http://tinyurl.com/9qn6zu

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    While impeachment is not a criminal trial and the Illinois House can, in practice, impeach for whatever it wants, the intent was that it be reserved for criminal conduct.

    There is no such limitation under the Illinois state constitution—that’s the federal constitution.

    Blagojevich expanded a health care program without proper authority, that he circumvented hiring laws to give jobs to political allies, that he spent millions of dollars on foreign flu vaccine that he knew wasn’t needed and couldn’t be brought into the country.

    Those charges constitute abuse of power. That’s the best, the fundamental cause of impeachment.

    An impeachment trial is neither a criminal proceedings nor a civil proceedings. It is a political action like an election or a recall. I just wish the Illinois House had done this a while ago.

  3. Bithead says:

    However all this might be about it being a proper action, (thereby possibly giving him another sliding point?) I wonder if this isn’t going to play into the oncoming Hillary- care debate.

  4. Floyd says:

    “”he was impeached for unpopular policies.””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    This is not really true, this man ruled this state by executive edict, and with absolute contempt for the legislature and the people of Illinois, spending billions on pet projects, with no regard for their opinions.
    He openly threatened business owners with jail time, should they defy him by following federal law.
    His behavior is an embarrassment, even to the most corrupt state system in the union!
    Blagojevich is an ego-maniacal jackass who deserves a comeuppance. In other words, a typical Illinois Democrat??[lol]

  5. Triumph says:

    While I have little doubt that Blagojevich committed crimes, he was impeached for unpopular policies. That’s a decidedly bad precedent.

    Perhaps. But there is nothing I love better than liberals fighting other liberals!

    With Blago down, we have one more to go: next on the impeachment agenda, the Big Kahuna, B. Hussein Obama!

  6. PD Shaw says:

    James, public officials have been impeached in America at the State and Federal level for three common reasons:

    1. criminal conduct, proven or alleged;
    2. ethical misconduct not prohibited by law;
    3. mental or physical disabilities.

    Many states have developed non-impeachment rules for the disability issue. Frankly, I would think that category 2 would have some appeal to you, with its expectation that there are codes of conduct in service of the government above and beyond the minimal legalisms.

  7. McGehee says:

    “Intent, shmintent. Who’s gonna stop us?”

    –Every politician who ever lived, in response to any objection ever raised to anything he ever wanted to do.

    The only surprise is that anybody is ever surprised.

  8. Bithead says:

    It occurs to me that Blagojevich would have made an ideal candidate to run the Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.