Statement from Illinois Republican Party Chairman Andy McKenna on the second impeachment vote and the senate organization of the impeachment committee:
"Illinois Democrats endorsed Rod Blagojevich's re-election in 2006 when many of these impeachable offenses were in the public realm, and by not stripping him of his senate appointment power they endorsed Governor Blagojevich's handpicked choice for the United States Senate."The people of Illinois are ready for real change, not more empty promises from a party that made Illinois a national embarrassment."
What Took Blagojevich Democrats So Long?
When Rod Blagojevich swears in the new General Assembly today, the first votes in both chambers will likely deal with his impeachment and trial. The Senate and the House, both dominated and led by Democrats who endorsed and worked to reelect Rod Blagojevich in 2006, deserve to be asked the same question: What took you so long?
The press accounts below show that many of the offenses for which Rod Blagojevich was impeached were widely known before his reelection in November of 2006. And despite their knowledge of what they now say are impeachable offenses, state Democrats endorsed and reelected Rod Blagojevich anyway.
Emil Jones and Mike Madigan both endorsed Blagojevich in August of 2005 and served as his campaign co-chairs, despite a steady stream of increasingly damning reports of his conduct. (Chicago Daily Herald, Democrats say Suburbs can be a Stronghold, August 18, 2005)
Incoming Senate President John Cullerton endorsed Blagojevich as well, saying “Oh, yes, absolutely…I think he deserves a second chance” (Chicago Sun Times, Gov lacks support in trenches, January 8, 2006)
Illegal Importation of Flu Vaccines:
Associated Press, January 31, 2005: Comptroller refuses to honor Blagojevich deal for flu vaccine: Illinois' chief financial officer said Monday his office would not pay for the millions of dollars in flu vaccine that Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered from Europe but never got federal approval to import.
Associated Press, March 3, 2005: Blagojevich's flu vaccine purchase under fire with lawmakers: Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to buy flu vaccine overseas amounted to a $2.5 million publicity stunt that may have violated state law, some lawmakers charged Thursday…Rep. Jack Franks, chairman of the House State Government Administration Committee, said he wants an audit of the program because the governor's aides acted as though taxpayer money was "theirs to spend without any oversight or accountability."
Associated Press, August 3, 2005: Thousands of unused flu shots Illinois agreed to buy have expired: All of the 700,000 flu shots Illinois ordered from Europe last year amid fears of a national shortage have expired, Deputy Gov. Bradley Tusk told The Associated Press on Wednesday…The deal could cost taxpayers $2.5 million - the amount Illinois agreed to pay for its share of the shots, which were never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for import…Gov. Rod Blagojevich ordered the doses of flu vaccine overseas last October, despite not having FDA approval to import them.
Copley News Service, September 19, 2006: Governor ignores drug-plan audit, plans to expand anyway: Thumbing his nose at a state audit that concluded Illinois' program to import prescription drugs violates federal law, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Tuesday he intends to expand it to include state employees and retirees…The audit released Tuesday by Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland also found that the governor's office went ahead with an attempt to import flu vaccine in 2004, even after federal officials had found additional supplies and informed the administration they would not allow the imports.
Crain’s Chicago Business, September 25, 2006: Guv uses Rx plan to raise re-election campaign money: With a campaign war chest of more than $12 million, you wouldn't think Gov. Rod Blagojevich would need to tap taxpayer money to fund his re-election bid…But that's just what he did when he used state dollars and workers in an illegal and unnecessary scheme to import prescription drugs and flu shots from abroad. Illinois Auditor General William Holland last week pegged the cost of Gov. Blagojevich's I-SaveRx at a minimum of nearly $1 million…The tab could rise considerably if the state goes forward with the program, as Gov. Blagojevich insists it will. Bills for unused flu shots alone could exceed $8 million.
Illegal Prescription Drug Program:
State Journal-Register, September 20, 2006: Governor to expand drug imports; Despite criticism by auditor, FDA's disapproval: Thumbing his nose at a state audit that concludes Illinois' program to import prescription drugs violates federal law, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Tuesday that he intends to expand it to include state employees and retirees.
Chicago Sun Times, September 20, 2006:Gov's drug program illegal, state auditor says: Gov. Blagojevich's highly touted drug-import pharmacy is little used and illegal, the state auditor said in a blistering report Tuesday…Blagojevich launched I-SaveRX in October 2004 to great fanfare. Consumers could save up to 50 percent by importing prescriptions from foreign pharmacies approved by the state, he said. But the auditor's report said importing prescription drugs "is in violation of federal law."
UPI, September 21, 2006: Illinois drug import program draws critics: I-SaveRx created two years ago by Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich is aimed at helping senior citizens and state workers obtain cheaper prescription medicines. However, critics say the program is illegal and inadequate, Business Insurance reported.
Crain’s Chicago Business, September 25, 2006: Guv uses Rx plan to raise re-election campaign money: With a campaign war chest of more than $12 million, you wouldn't think Gov. Rod Blagojevich would need to tap taxpayer money to fund his re-election bid…But that's just what he did when he used state dollars and workers in an illegal and unnecessary scheme to import prescription drugs and flu shots from abroad. Illinois Auditor General William Holland last week pegged the cost of Gov. Blagojevich's I-SaveRx at a minimum of nearly $1 million.
Ignoring Freedom of Information Act Requests:
Associated Press, September 14, 2005: Governor endorses child-safety program, but won't release a review on it: Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced a $650,000 plan to keep schoolchildren safe from predators Wednesday, but his administration won't release its own review of the program's effectiveness.
The Pantagraph, July 1, 2006: Proof of $5.3 million savings isn't being released: We're glad to hear the state says it has saved more than $5.3 million by reducing its fleet of cars over the past two fiscal years. But the public has yet to see the proof. And the governor's office won't release the study that supposedly caused this savings… The governor's office wouldn't release the study even after Lee News Service filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the report. The state claims the study is in draft form, so it's exempt from open records laws.
Chicago Sun-Times, July 21, 2006: New fed subpoenas concealed: Gov. Blagojevich's administration has been hit with new subpoenas in a federal probe of its hiring practices but is concealing them from its own department heads and voters as election season heats up.
State Journal-Register, October 27, 2006: Madigan: Release subpoenas; Governor's spokeswoman says they'll stay secret: Subpoenas are public records…That's what attorney general Lisa Madigan said to Gov. Rod Blagojevich Thursday in telling the governor's office that subpoenas received by his administration must be disclosed under the state Freedom of Information Act...A Blagojevich spokeswoman said via e-mail Thursday evening that the records will remain secret.
Chicago Sun Times, October 27, 2006: Gov rejects Madigan's subpoena order: Attorney General Lisa Madigan ordered Gov. Blagojevich's administration Thursday to release copies of all subpoenas issued by federal investigators probing corruption under the governor…But Blagojevich's office Thursday indicated it would not abide by Madigan's order, setting up a possible constitutional showdown between two of the state's top Democratic officeholders.
The Pantagraph, November 3, 2006: Governor's secrecy an insult to Illinois citizens: Gov. Rod Blagojevich is demonstrating his arrogance and his lack of commitment to the free flow of information by refusing to release information on unsuccessful job applicants and subpoenas his administration has received in a federal investigation of corruption. …These refusals have persisted despite opinions from the Illinois Attorney General's Office that the public is entitled to see this material under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
Copley News Service, January 21, 2005: Blagojevich, Mell spat gets even more bizarre: Chicago Alderman Dick Mell, Blagojevich's father-in-law, said appointments to state boards and commissions were up for sale by the administration. Specifically, he said Blagojevich's top fund-raiser, Christopher Kelly, was the guy doing the selling. Objecting to his portrayal as sleazy, Kelly threatened to sue Mell unless the alderman retracted his statements.
January 25, 2005: Governor's family dispute brings Chicago politics to new level of incivility: An apparently long-simmering disagreement between the two became public earlier this month when Blagojevich shut down a landfill run by a distant relative of his in-laws. Mell responded by telling reporters his son-in-law was destroying the family.
And he added a more serious accusation: that Blagojevich's chief fund-raiser had traded government appointments for $50,000 campaign contributions.
Associated Press, July 1, 2006: Letter confirms federal probe of hiring by Illinois governor's office: The hiring practices of the Illinois governor's office are the focus of a federal investigation into possible misconduct at several state agencies, a federal prosecutor said in a letter made public Friday…U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in the letter he is looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" by Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration. The allegations include violations of restrictions against using politics to award jobs.
Associated Press, July 23, 2006: Illinois governor's office hired by name well into 2004: Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office was approving candidates by name for state jobs as late as fall 2004, nearly 18 months after aides said a "blind" hiring system was created, documents show…Well into Blagojevich's second year in office, his chief of staff and personnel director continued to sign off on names of candidates for such jobs as secretary, auto mechanic and film office intern, nearly 300 employment forms obtained by The Associated Press reveal.
Associated Press, August 8, 2006: Illinois governor office closes loopholes on hiring interns: Associated Press reviews have found that the program, in which the average age is 31, included many campaign contributors or their relatives. Because they were considered interns and not true state employees, they could be hired without going through normal procedures. Internships went to a spouse and cousin of top Blagojevich aides, the 60-year-old relative of a Democratic congressman, a lawmaker's son who already was on the state payroll in a similar capacity, and a longtime state employee and former campaign staffer who was named one agency's $54,000 human resources director.
UPI, August 11, 2006: Thousands with clout got Illinois jobs: Political connections helped thousands of applicants get hired by the state of Illinois according to the administration of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Copley News Service, August 24, 2006: Hard to keep track of hiring offenses: State agencies have hired over 260 "public administration" interns. One-third of them have official ties to the Democratic Party - the governor's party. These interns aren't just co-eds fetching coffee. They're adults making $54,000 as prison business administrators, or $55,000 as human resources honchos. Coincidentally, classifying a job as an internship removes it from hiring restrictions, such as giving preference to veterans.
Chicago Sun Times, September 13, 2006: Gov family gets $1,500, public gets schooled: For the record, my kids have never gotten a $1,500 check for their birthdays from a single one of our friends. Not when they were little, not when they got bigger. Not once…And we have very generous, good friends…But fifteen hundred bucks is a sizable chunk of change to drop into a kid's birthday card and, if that kid happens to be the 7-year-old daughter of Rod Blagojevich who ran for governor on the "I'm Not George Ryan" bandwagon, it's staggeringly stupid.
Copley News Service, September 22, 2006: Blagojevich says he made job inquiry for gift-giver's wife: Gov. Rod Blagojevich acknowledged Thursday that he inquired about a possible state job for the wife of a friend who later presented a $1,500 check to one of the governor's children…But he vigorously denied that the check and the job had anything to do with one another…Blagojevich also offered conflicting information about the purpose of the September 2003 gift from Michael Ascaridis, whose wife, Beverly, became a state parks administrator about a month earlier. The governor said the $1,500 may have been for his youngest daughter, Annie, now 3, on the occasion of her christening.
Associated Press, October 5, 2006: Ill. Gov. Questioned Over $1,500 Check: For months, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been fending off accusations he bungled government programs and awarded jobs and contracts to contributors and cronies. But suddenly, one issue has cut through the clutter: a $1,500 gift to one of his daughters.
Roll Call, October 24, 2006: Election Day Is Almost Here, Yet Scandals Continue to Surface: For more than a year, the Blagojevich administration has been besieged by allegations of corruption and investigations by state and federal authorities. Recently, questions have been raised about a $1,500 gift to one of the governor's young daughters from a longtime friend whose wife had recently been hired for a state job. And Tony Rezko, a top fundraiser and adviser to Blagojevich, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.