Crooked Illinois Pols should be getting their own CELLBLOCK soon. Rod Blagojevich became the second consecutive Illinois governor to head to the hoosegow, sentenced on Wednesday to 14 years in prison, though he could be released in 11. Blago was convicted on 18 counts of corruption related to him selling elected offices like Donald Trump handles real-estate deals. In behavior similar to South Cackalack’s own Thomas Ravenel, he knew right from wrong, but just-didn’t-care. (If you didn’t catch that analogy, please see prior post titled “Ravenel or Rugrat: On Tommy’s Temper Tantrum“)
On Blago nominating a temporary office-holder for President Barack Obama’s former Senate seat, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg wrote:
It is a big responsibility; a senator is a state’s key advocate in Washington, determining how much federal money comes back to fund programs that millions rely on. I believe that any random Illinoisan, any housewife, cabdriver or busboy would instantly recognize the gravity of the task, and 99.9 percent would have acted accordingly.
Not Blago. He viewed this as an opportunity to profit, period. “I want to make money,” he said. That was the beginning and end of the his calculation. That isn’t “horse-trading,” that’s barratry, the selling of an office. Not just a crime but a sin.
Were I the judge, I’d have given him less time in prison, because he is a pathetic figure, a lost soul, cut off from self knowledge.
Fitting with his character as we’ve come to know it, the “reality TV/Pistachio-cracking commercial governor” asked his attorneys to appeal the conviction. It’s like a bad trip through the Alice’s looking glass. According to the Chicago Tribune, “They cited issues of judicial bias by (U.S. District Judge James) Zagel and a tainted jury pool. The defense has also long contended that there was critical evidence the jury never heard, including some from witnesses and some from the recorded phone calls that Zagel did not allow to be played during the trial. They have also argued, for example, that Blagojevich’s own testimony was restricted by Zagel’s rulings.”
The big-top circus morphed into a theatre of the absurd when Ivanka Trump lept to Blago’s defense while doing a publicity tour for the new season of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” saying of her former co-star, “Fourteen years seems pretty excessive … that is one stiff penalty. We’ll see what happens, but I am definitely thinking of his family at this point.”
Well…Let me be the first to say “thank you Ivanka, it was burning a hole in me to learn your opinion on Blago . Also , do you have a good recipe for Christmas Oyster Stuffing this Season?”(sarcasm added).
What Blagojevich committed was the political equivalent of a player betting on baseball : The cardinal sin of the profession. Fourteen years in the clink is a fair sentence. But he deserves more. If anything here is cruel and unusual, it has been being subjected to his slick, unrepentantly-arrogant ass on TV for the past two years. (discuss)
by J.L. Mann Cromer, Jr., an Attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He received his BA in 1985 from Clemson University and his JD in 1988 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.