Imprisoned ex-Illinois governor appeals to Obama for clemency

Impeached and removed from office by the Illinois Senate on Jan. 29, 2009, and barred from holding further office, ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich has formally petitioned President Obama for a commutation of his sentence.

According to the Justice Department, Mr. Blagojevich, who has served four of his 14-year sentence, submitted his plea for his sentence to be commuted last week.

Mr. Blagojevich’s bid for a reduced sentence follows a second attempt for a re-sentencing hearing on the grounds of good behavior and should not face eight-further years behind bars.  Blagojevich’s attorneys have consistently argued his original sentence of 14 years is too severe.

Blagojevich has remained at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood, Colo., since March 12, 2012.

Following his removal from office in 2009, Blagojevich was found guilty of 18 charges in June 2011, including wire fraud, attempted extortion, and conspiracy to solicit bribes in a federal corruption trial.

The charges largely stem from Blagojevich’s attempt to sell Illinois’ U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after his election to the White House in 2008.  Blagojevich was accused of attempting to exact campaign donations in exchange for an appointment to fill Mr. Obama’s term in the Senate.

“I’ve got this thing (Senate appointment) and it’s f—— golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f—— nothing,” Blagojevich is heard saying on FBI wiretaps.

The disgraced ex-governor petitioned to have his sentence reduced in July after an appeals panel tossed out a handful of his convictions, but U.S. District Judge James Zagel rejected his bid for a reduction and re-sentenced the Illinois Democrat to 14 years.

A Chicago native, Blagojevich graduated from Northwestern University in 1979 and earned his law degree from Pepperdine University in 1983.  After serving in the Cook County State’s Attorney office, Blagojevich ran for and won a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Four years later, in 1996, Blagojevich ousted one-term Republican Michael Flanagan, in Illinois’ 5th congressional district, who had defeated longtime Democrat, Dan Rostenkowski, in the 1994 mid-term elections.

Serving three terms, Blagojevich stepped down from his House seat and defeated the then-Illinois Attorney General, Jim Ryan in the race for Illinois governor.

The father of two daughters, Blagojevich is married to Patti Blagojevich, who is the daughter of former Chicago Alderman Dick Mell.

Despite his appeal for a shorter sentence from his political ally, Obama, the odds are against Mr. Blagojevich:  Of the 32,000 pleas for commutations since 2009, Mr. Obama has granted slightly over 1,000.

Blagojevich’s imprisonment on corruption charges follows two former Illinois’ governors, Dan Walker and George Ryan, jailed since 1971.


[Chicago Tribune] [Photo courtesy EPA via The Telegraph]