Committee Votes: Blago Abused Power | NBC New York

Committee Votes: Blago Abused Power

House votes on first impeachment in Illinois history



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    Gov. Rod Blagojevich is accused of using his office for 'pay to play' politics, asking for contributions in exchange for naming Illinois' next U.S. senator.

    The Illinois House Impeachment Committee has unanimously passed its recommendation to impeach Blagojevich.

    Wasting no time, House Speaker Michael Madigan scheduled a vote for Friday morning.

    The House Impeachment Committee has unanimously passed its recommendation to impeach . Wasting no time, House Speaker Michael Madigan scheduled a vote for Friday morning.

    One by one, the committee members voted in favor of impeachment, calling the governor's acts "egregious" and the evidence "overwhelming."  The full House will vote Friday on whether to charge the governor with abuse of power and move the impeachment proceedings to the Illinois Senate, putting the governor on trial.

    Admitting he often disgreed with the governor, Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) made a plea to the voters of Illinois.

    "Please don't judge us for the bad acts of one man and administration," he said. "It is with a sad heart but a future optimism for our state, I vote yes."

    Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) called for Blagojevich to resign rather than being the first Illinois governor to be impeached.

    Minutes after the vote, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) predicted the full House would impeach Blagojevich as soon as Friday, the first such action in state history.

    Lt. Gov Pat Quinn, who stands to become governor if Blagojevich is removed from office, praised the committee vote.

    "I think given the overwhelming evidence, it was pretty clear to anyone that this is what the people of Illinois wanted," said Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn. " The committee did what the people of Illinois felt was appropriate and I hope that message gets through to Governor Blagojevich."

    Quinn said Blagojevich should look to history and do the right thing.

    "When this happened in 1974 to President Nixon, he voluntarily resigned. I know the governor is a student of history, and now is the time for him to step aside."

    The governor's office blasted the impeachment proceedings as "flawed" and "biased" and said the vote was "not a surprise."  While Blagojevich's office predicts he'll be impeached by the full House, they say the outcome will be different "when the case moves to the Senate."

    The full statement:

      "The outcome was a foregone conclusion especially when you consider the committee released its report hours before wrapping up testimony. The Governor believes that the impeachment proceedings were flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law. His team was not allowed to subpoena witnesses, they were never allowed to cross examine people and never given the chance to put on any kind of defense. In all, the Governor’s rights to due process were deprived. When the case moves to the Senate, an actual judge will preside over the hearings, and the Governor believes the outcome will be much different." 

    Committee Report Recommends Impeachment

    The Illinois House committee investigating Blago released the 69-page draft report Thursday that concludes the Democratic governor has abused his power.
    "The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own," the report reads. "It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so."

    Thursday's vote came after Senate appointee Roland Burris told the committee that he's never been involved in an improper deal in his two decades in government and didn't strike any agreement to become embattled Gov. Blagojevich's pick for the U.S. Senate.
    "I can before this committee state that there was nothing ... legal, personal, or political exchanged for my appointment to this seat," Burris testified under oath to Illinois House committee studying whether to impeach the governor.
    But the former Illinois attorney general declined to answer questions about whether he would have gone to federal authorities if he'd been offered such a deal. He also declined to say whether Blagojevich should resign or be impeached, saying he has no control over those issues.

    Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges that include allegations he schemed to profit from his power to name President-elect Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate.