One step closer to Blagojevich impeachment

ONE STEP CLOSER TO BLAGOJEVICH IMPEACHMENT…. State lawmakers in Illinois tasked a special investigative committee to explore possible impeachment charges against Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D). Today, the panel came back with a recommendation for the legislature.

“The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own. It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so,” says the 69-page document posted by Democratic and Republican members on the House Web site.

“For all the reasons stated in this report and the evidence contained in the record before the committee, the special investigative committee for the Illinois House of Representatives, 95th General Assembly, finds that the totality of the evidence warrants the impeachment of the governor for cause,” the draft report concludes.

The language in the 69-page draft report reflects the sentiments of the 21 members on the House panel, who began looking into impeachment proceedings against the governor on Dec. 16 — a week after Blagojevich was arrested at his North Side home on federal criminal charges of allegedly using the governor’s office for personal and political gain.

The litany of transgressions is not brief. As the Tribune noted, the draft report (pdf) points to, among other things, Blagojevich “expanding health care without legislative approval, spending state money on useless flu vaccines, refusing to release federal subpoenas and other government information to the public, widespread hiring abuses and pay-to-play activities in which big contributors often wound up with hefty state contracts.” And then it gets into the charges raised by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

At this point, an impeachment committee will vote on the report, possibly as early as today, leading to an impeachment vote in the Illinois House, which could come before close of business tomorrow. If approved, the matter would go the state Senate, which would vote on whether to “convict” the governor and remove him from office.

Of course, with former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris (D) likely to fill the state’s U.S. Senate vacancy “very shortly,” there’s less of a sense of urgency.