November 28, 2020

Editorial: No Mercy for Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich is approaching his day of reckoning. The former governor of our neighbor to the east, Illinois, Blagojevich is knee-deep in his two-day sentence hearing. The hearing is to decide how much prison time Blagojevich will receive for a corruption charge levied against him after his arrest three years ago.

As governor, Blagojevich had the duty of naming a replacement to the U.S. senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after the 2008 presidential election. Blagojevich attempted to use the nomination as leverage, lobbying for money or future employment in exchange for selling off the seat of an elected official.

For the first time, Blagojevich’s attorneys have admitted his guilt in court. In fact, they stated plainly Tuesday that the former governor was guilty of corruption and attempting to sell a senate seat.

But Blagojevich’s attorneys have a bigger problem: the proposed sentence. Prosecutors are asking for a 15-20 year sentence for the shamed governor. If successful, it will be the stiffest prison sentence for any elected official in state history.

The Journal would like to officially agree with Blago’s attorneys that this penalty is not appropriate. The Journal believes the proposed sentence is too lenient, not too harsh. As the highest-ranking executive in the Illinois government, Blagojevich had a responsibility to those that elected him to uphold the state constitution and protect the general welfare of the people.

By attempting to sell President Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder, Blagojevich spat in the face of his entire state. He deserves neither pity nor forgiveness, and his shameless corruption is only surpassed by his self-delusional insistence on his innocence.

Blago lied, cheated and robbed a state that has been regularly flogged by its elected officials. If he is imprisoned, four of the last eight Illinois governors will have been thrown in jail. Black men in Detroit have a lower imprisonment rate than 50 percent, and it’s about time we demanded more of our politicians.

Blago attempted to block any sense of democratic government in his state by appointing an unelected criminal to a senate seat. In doing so, he prevented the people from due process, due elections and justice — effectively committing an act of treason against the state of Illinois.

Blago represents everything that is fundamentally flawed with our political system, and The Journal thinks that sparing or diminishing his sentence would only encourage more corruption and criminal behavior. Blago’s crime has far-reaching implications and could potentially impact millions.

If we insist on punishing purse-snatchers and drug users, then we must punish people who try to auction off our government like a cheap antique at a dusty strip mall.

Rod Blagojevich would have given a senate seat to Russian spies if they’d offered him a corner office at the Kremlin, and for that, he deserves to die in prison with the thousands of minor criminals he insisted on arresting while being, “tough on crime.”

Put him away, Illinois. Lock him up and sell the key to the highest bidder.

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