It seems that corruption is rampant in the U.S. state of Illinois. Rod Blagojevich was the former governor of that state and was convicted for a litany of charges in 2008, the most serious of which was attempting to sell a Senate seat that was once occupied by then President-elect Barack Obama. Mr. Blagojevich is now serving a rather long prison sentence in Englewood Penitentiary in Colorado, and isn’t expected to be released until 2024.
A federal appeals court tossed out some of Blagojevich’s convictions last year, but not all of them. He was hoping the Supreme Court would scrap the remaining convictions but that wasn’t the outcome. Blagojevich went beyond what’s acceptable in the world of politics, despite his arguments that he acted no differently than any other elected officials who leverage their power. Blagojevich hung himself: there was a fountain of incriminating evidence that came from wiretaps on his phone and his own testimony during his second trial.
Blagojevich’s money-making schemes weren’t limited to selling a Senate seat. Back in 2009 when a series of indictments were handed down a federal grand jury illustrated the many ways in which Blagojevich tried to enrich himself and those close to him. This was the opposite of what he pledged to do in the first place – get rid of government corruption. The state of Illinois has an image problem because George Ryan, the governor who came before Blagojevich, also served time in prison for racketeering and conspiracy.
Blagojevich also tried to bleed a Chicago hospital of $50,000 in campaign contributions, and threatened that if the cash wasn’t paid the state would increase the amount the hospital would pay for Medicaid reimbursements for specialty-care doctors.
Blagojevich isn’t the only one paying the price for his misdeeds. His father-in-law, Dick Mell, is a retired Chicago alderman and helped the former governor get to Congress back in the mid-1990s, but the two men had a falling-out not long after. Mell stated he regretted aiding his son-in-law. Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, expressed disappointment at the recent decision of the appellate court to reject her husband’s appeal.
What is an appellate court? Basically, it’s a court of appeals. Cases can be further appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. This time, however, no new evidence is given and there is no jury. The judge will go over the material from the original trial and decide if the lower court made the right legal decision.
There may be a glimmer of hope for Rod Blagojevich. Apparently, he and Donald Trump know each other from the popular show Celebrity Apprentice. The two men seemed to have built a rapport. If Trump becomes President could he commute the disgraced governor’s sentence? Trump’s candidacy is gaining steam and it’s possible he could get into the White House after all. Anything can happen when the election results come in. Pardons and commutations usually happen only when a President’s term is over. Obama won’t help Blagojevich, but what about Trump? He might do something.