Impeachment progresses, Blagojevich lawyers up

IMPEACHMENT PROGRESSES, BLAGOJEVICH LAWYERS UP…. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) did not resign yesterday, as had been rumored over the weekend. Lawmakers in the state House responded by voting to begin impeachment efforts against the governor. The vote was 113 to 0.

Michael J. Madigan, the powerful House speaker in a capital where Democrats control both the House and Senate, appointed a committee that will begin gathering evidence and testimony on Tuesday in an “abuse of power” case against Mr. Blagojevich. […]

“We’re going to proceed with all due speed, but we are going to make sure that what we do is done correctly,” said Mr. Madigan, who like many others in state government has long sparred with Mr. Blagojevich and has fielded calls for Mr. Blagojevich’s impeachment long before now.

Blagojevich’s future is obviously bleak, but the road ahead for Illinois officials is unclear. Impeachment is a lengthy process, and the 21-member special impeachment committee is already drawing complaints from Republicans, who were “furious” because they want the panel to have “equal representation from both parties.” (With two parties and 21 members, I’m not sure how that’s possible.)

The question of a special election is also still lingering. GOP officials in Illinois and Washington are anxious to have one (because they want to try to win the seat), and Blagojevich is nearly as excited about the possibility (because he believes it would buy him some time).

But even this option became more complicated yesterday when county clerks in Illinois explained that a statewide special election would cost up to $50 million, and the state simply can’t afford that right now. It would be cheaper if the state could wait until April 7, when Illinois would hold already-scheduled local elections, but that would leave the state with a Senate vacancy for four months — in the midst of some very important votes in Congress.

With this in mind, state lawmakers adjourned last night without even considering the special election issue, to the dismay of Illinois Republicans.

For his part, Blagojevich has reportedly hired Chicago defense attorney Ed Genson to represent him in this mess. Stay tuned.