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Will Blagojevich Face Impeachment?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 28, 2008 4:33PM

2008_4_28.impeach.jpgThe pressure on the beleaguered Illinois Governor cranked up a notch this weekend, as State Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) told CBS2 Chicago that the Illinois House should begin preparing for impeachment proceedings. "Creating a committee to decide if impeachment is warranted is such a reasonable premise that there would be overwhelming support in the House," Fritchey said.

Fritchey is concerned that, given recent revelations in Tony Rezko's fraud trial that Ali Ata traded thousands of dollars for a lucrative state job, the governor may soon face his own indictment. Ali testified that he give Blagojevich $25,000 in exchange for $127,000-a-year state job.

Ata said that, in 2002, he met with Blagojevich at Rezko's Chicago offices and gave the governor a $25,000 check for a campaign contribution. Rezko placed the check on a conference table, according to Ata's plea deal. Then, according to Ata, Blagojevich "expressed his pleasure and acknowledged that the defendant had been a good supporter and good friend." The governor, "in the defendant's presence, asked Rezko if he [Rezko] had talked to the defendant about positions in the administration, and Rezko responded that he had."
Ata started working as director of the Illinois Finance Authority in 2003 and was formally appointed to the job in 2004.

It appears that contributing that sum of money to Blagojevich in exchange for lucrative favors was more than a one-time deal. The Tribune published an investigation of 235 such $25,000 campaign donations this Sunday, finding that three out of four donors got something from the state in return. "There is no connection between campaign contributions and the awarding of contracts or jobs," Doug Scofield, a Blagojevich campaign adviser told the Tribune. "The amount of the contribution is a decision made by the contributor alone."

The House can't move forward on impeachment without the approval of House Speaker Mike Madigan, who indicated that he would move cautiously. "I don't plan to create a committee for this purpose, today. Every day's a new day. If we have to ... my resolve is to do it appropriately and professionally," Madigan told CBS2. Even if impeachment did move forward in the House, the trial would be held in the Senate, where the governor has more allies.

Photo by ReefRaff