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Top Illinois politicians call for Blagojevich to resign

(UPI file photo, Bill Greenblatt)


Chicago – Illinois politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling on Governor Rod Blagojevich to resign after his arrest early Tuesday amid a federal corruption investigation.

Among other things, Blagojevich has been accused of trying to benefit financially from his ability to appoint President-Elect Barack Obama's Senate replacement.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, said in a statement that it's "absolutely clear the Governor is incapable of governing."

Madigan's father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, said he's willing to discuss the suggestions of House Republican Leader Tom Cross, who called for the Illinois House to begin impeachment proceedings.

Under the Illinois state constitution, articles of impeachment may be brought by the House and voted on by the Senate.

Illinois GOP Chairman Andy McKenna said the business of the state can not properly function unless Blagojevich steps aside.

"To see a public official be accused of these things is in and of itself terrible," McKenna said. "The governor should resign immediately, or if he refuses to do that, we call on Democratic and Republican leaders to join together and impeach him."

McKenna said Blagojevich deserves a chance to defend himself, but the governor should remove himself from the process of picking Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate.

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

If impeachment proceedings are brought against Blagojevich, state senators including Democrat Bill Haine of Alton will decide the governor's fate. At the moment, Haine said none of the important business of Illinois can proceed.

"All of the obligations of a modern state are in tatters, shambles. It's going to be a monumental effort to restore the confidence of the people."

Blagojevich was released on his own recognizance Tuesday. A judge also ordered him to surrender his passport.

If Blagojevich resigns or is forced out of office, his successor will be Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn said Blagojevich should examine his conscience and do what's right for the people of Illinois.


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