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Belmont Club

The End of Blagojevich

June 27th, 2011 - 1:33 pm

A roundup of reactions from political figures all across Illinois expressed relief over the conviction of former Governor Rod Blagojevich on several counts of corruption, including the attempted sale of Barack Obama’s former Senate seat. But there was some doubt over whether the conviction would mean an end to corruption in a state whose largest city, Chicago, is a byword in wheeling and dealing.

Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich turned to defense attorney Sheldon Sorosky and asked “What happened?” after he was found guilty of 17 of 20 charges in his corruption retrial. … Blagojevich was convicted of all 11 charges related to his attempt to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.

The L.A. Times says the trial did not bring down anyone else in a wider scandal, something for which many other Illinois politicians are probably grateful.

Given the nature of the charges, critics of Obama eyed the case closely for any hint that the president or his close associates — among them new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel,Obama’s former chief of staff — had abetted Blagojevich’s attempts at wheeling and dealing.

But wiretaps and testimony showed an incoming White House both wary of Blagojevich and largely unresponsive to his attempts to land a cabinet post, ambassadorship or other lucrative post as the price for naming a senator to Obama’s liking.

In the end, jurors agreed with prosecutors that Blagojevich had tried to sell the Senate in a variety of ways, including an attempt to steer it to U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for $1.5 million in campaign cash promised by Jackson supporters.

For the moment, the Rod Blagojevich show has ended and with any luck without an apparent encore. But the show, even the spectacle of the governor’s conviction, no longer entertains. It only reminds the public how many more corrupt politicians there are to go. Recently, two Wisconsin Supreme Court justices fought a wrestling match in chambers, an incident that is now going to be investigated by two separate probes. Things like this tend to undermine the public’s confidence in the ability of the status quo to heal itself.

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