Sat, Jan 10, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Illinois panel advocates governor’s impeachment

AP , SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS

A state panel recommended that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich be impeached for abuse of power, hours after his Senate pick told lawmakers he didn’t strike any agreement with the ­scandal-plagued governor to win the plumb position.

The state panel’s decision set the stage for the full House to take action yesterday and make Blagojevich the first governor impeached in Illinois history. If the House votes to impeach, the matter would then go to the state Senate for a trial.

The 21-member panel voted unanimously to recommend impeachment. Many called it “a sad day” for Illinois.

Blagojevich has denied any wrongdoing. Spokesman Lucio Guerrero did not immediately comment on the committee’s action, but said there was no chance the governor would quit before the full House vote yesterday. Blagojevich’s attorneys left the hearing before the committee voted.

Burris’ testimony under oath earlier in the day was one of the key requirements Senate Democrats set out for him as a condition of accepting his appointment, after initially balking at any choice by Blagojevich.

“There was nothing ... legal, personal or political exchanged for my appointment to this seat,” Roland Burris told an Illinois House committee investigating impeachment.

Burris declined to answer questions about whether he would have gone to federal authorities if he had been offered such a deal. He also declined to say whether Blagojevich should resign or be impeached, saying he has no control over those issues.

The governor picked Burris to fill US president-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat after being arrested on Dec. 9 on federal charges that include allegations he schemed to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

Burris, 71, said on Thursday he didn’t talk to Blagojevich about the Senate seat before the arrest, though he said he expressed interest to some “close friends.”

An early draft of the report released by the committee concluded the Democratic governor had abused his power.

“The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own,” the report read.

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