Speaker: Willing to Consider Impeachment - NBC Chicago

Speaker: Willing to Consider Impeachment

Reaction to arrest pours in

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    Illinois House Democrats
    Madigan said Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest Tuesday on federal corruption charges marks "a new low" for public officials.

    Calling Tuesday's events "shocking and disappointing," Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said he's willing to discuss impeaching the governor.

    Madigan said Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest Tuesday on federal corruption charges marks "a new low" for public officials.

    "I believe in the rights of individuals to due process, but I also believe action must be taken to avoid certain functions of state government from being irrevocably tarnished by Governor Blagojevich’s continued exercise of power," Madigan said in a statement.

    The Chicago Democrat didn't come out and directly support impeachment. Instead, Madigan said he's willing to discuss the suggestions of House Republican Leader Tom Cross.

    Cross has called for the House to begin impeachment proceedings.

    Madigan also said he'll convene the House on Monday to vote on requiring a special election to fill the state's vacant U.S. Senate seat. That would take the decision out of Blagojevich's hands.

    Democrats and Republicans alike immediately called upon the governor to resign.

    "Today, our worst fears have been realized," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement. "Once again, the people of Illinois have learned that a governor has engaged in a shockingly flagrant scheme to sell his power and authority to the highest bidder. "

    "The conduct is especially outrageous and truly demonstrates a new level of corruption given that Gov. Blagojevich has been the subject of ongoing criminal investigations for years," said the Attorney General. "Yet, undaunted by these investigations, Gov. Blagojevich decided to undertake schemes to sell the U.S. Senate seat, to sell his signature on legislation, and to interfere in financing deals – all in an effort to obtain personal and political benefits."

    "It is absolutely clear that the governor is incapable of governing," said Madigan, calling for him to resign and let Lt. Gov. Quinn to succeed him.

    "I want to assure the People of Illinois that I am working quickly to move forward on the next legal steps should the Governor refuse to resign," she said. "I am already working with the legislative leaders to make sure that the work of this State continues without interruption."

    Madigan also thanked the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI for their work on the investigation.

    Quinn did not come right out and ask Blagojevich to resign, but he said the governor needs to "do the right thing" and step aside if his ability to govern is impeded by the federal corruption charges he's facing.

    State Comptroller Dan Hynes minced no words in his call for resignation.

    "For the well being of Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich must resign immediately," Hynes said in a statement from his office. "While this investigation is still ongoing, our state cannot afford to remain engulfed in this unfolding scandal.

    "Our government's ability to deal on a daily basis with the fiscal and economic crises we currently face demands leadership and integrity. Our governor cannot provide either, and he needs to do what's right for the people of Illinois," the comptroller said.

    Hynes added that, "On a personal note, I am immensely saddened and angered by these developments. This is perhaps the most embarrassing moment in the history of Illinois government, and a stain that will not be easily removed."

    Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, while not calling for Blagojevich's outright resignation, said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Thompson Center, "The governor knows what he needs to do on behalf of the people of Illinois ... and step aside. I think he knows what he needs to do."

    State Republican Party Chairman Andrew McKenna said that if the governor does not resign, state legislators should move to impeach him.

    "For the good of the state, and in the interest of the taxpayers, the Illinois Republican Party calls on Gov. Blagojevich to resign his office effective immediately," McKenna said in a statement released Tuesday morning.

    "If Gov. Blagojevich does not resign his position, we urge the General Assembly to move swiftly with impeachment proceedings."

    "The events this morning are shocking," a statement from Illinois Senate President Emil Jones said. "The faith of the citizens of Illinois has once again been shaken. I will call the Senate back in to session to pass legislation that would create a special election for the U. S. Senate seat to help restore the confidence of the people of Illinois during this difficult time."

    Jones has long been considered a Blagojevich ally.

    U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky is also joining the choir of voices calling for the governor's immediate resignation.

    "This is a sad day for the people of Illinois," she said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. "The charges against Gov. Blagojevich are very serious and damaging. It is in the best interest of the State of Illinois that Gov. Blagojevich resign from office immediately."

    Schakowsky went on to say that the state legislature should reconvene for a special session immediately and begin impeachment proceedings if Blagojevich does not step down.

    "I have already called the Illinois Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, and Illinois State Senate President, Emil Jones, to ask them to come back into session to begin impeachment proceedings," she said.

    More Reaction to Gov. Blagojevich's Arrest:


    "Two governors in a row? That just makes us look so terrible as a state that it's embarrassing to say one lives here. We have to carry that title because our politicians let us down." -- Judy Baar Topinka, the former Republican state treasurer who lost to Blagojevich in 2006.

    "We've got enough problems with state government without continuing to operate now with more than a cloud over the governor. This is a hurricane over his head." -- Rich Whitney of Carbondale, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat Blagojevich in 2006 as a Green Party candidate.

    "I'm thinking, holy cow, Christmas came early." -- Pontiac Mayor Scott McCoy, whose central Illinois town has been rankled about Blagojevich's plan to shut down the local 570-worker prison.

    "Our state cannot afford to remain engulfed in this unfolding scandal. Our government's ability to deal on a daily basis with the fiscal and economic crises we currently face demands leadership and integrity. Our governor cannot provide either." -- State Comptroller Dan Hynes, a Democrat.

    "The faith of the citizens of Illinois has once again been shaken." -- Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, pledging to call the Senate back in to session to pass legislation that would create a special election for the U.S. Senate seat.

    "I'm one of the biggest, harshest critics of the governor, but for the people of Illinois who've now been through this going on 10 years, it's just a sad day, just awful." -- Rep. Chapin Rose, a Mahomet Republican referring to the corruption arrest and conviction of Blagojevich's now-imprisoned predecessor, Gov. George Ryan.

    "What first comes to mind is, it's about time." -- Steven Poe, 54, owner of East Side Marine in Springfield, the city stung recently by Blagojevich's decision to move the state's Traffic Safety Division -- and about 140 jobs -- to southern Illinois.

    "These are very serious charges, and we must allow the legal process to go forward. The people of Illinois will be best served if this matter is considered in a timely and efficient manner." -- U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville.