The PJ Tatler

Blagojevich Gets 14 Years for Trying to Sell Senate Seat

Former Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempting to sell the vacated senate seat of Barack Obama to the highest bidder, as well as other schemes and “pay to play” shakedowns.

The judge in the case, US District Judge James Zagel, gave the disgraced Blagojevich a sentence that was more than twice that of another Illinois governor serving prison time.  George Ryan, convicted racketeering and fraud, received a 6 1/2 year sentence for his crimes.

In the end, a subdued and apparently humbled Blagojevich pled for leniency:

“I’m here convicted of crimes. The jury decided I was guilty. I am accepting of it. I acknowledge it, and I of course am unbelievably sorry for it,” Blagojevich said.

“I want to apologize to the people of Illinois, to the court, for the mistakes I have made…I never set out to break the law. I never set out to cross lines.”

Blagojevich said he thought he was acting in accord with the law when he did things for which he later was convicted.

“I was mistaken. The jury convicted me and they convicted me because those were my actions…I am responsible. I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody. I was the governor, and I should have known better. And I am just so incredibly sorry.”

The prosecution’s tapes of Blagojevich telephone conversations revealed a cold, calculating schemer who sought to enrich himself by selling the senate seat of Barack Obama, vacant after his election as president. He was also convicted of pay to play bribes in appointing favored candidates to state boards and commissions. He was also found guilty of lying to federal agents.

What is the legacy of Rob Blagojevich? The same legacy that haunts many other Illinois governors, legislators, and politicians from both parties over the course of years; corruption, disgrace, and shameful misuse of the public purse.

When politicians see election or appointment to government office as a way to enrich themselves, the worst kind of man or woman makes themselves available for public service. There was nothing remarkable about Blagojevich’s crimes when placed against the long, miserable roll call of other Illinois officials who have betrayed the public trust and cynically taken advantage of a system that encourages graft and corruption.And until the public — grown hardened and cynical about politics and government — demands change, Blagojevich will not be the last governor hauled into federal court to answer for his despicable behavior.