Marking the climax of the long story of scoundrels in Illinois electoral politics, a federal magistrate finally sentenced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in prison. Judge James Zagel did not allow him to wriggle his way out of the charges against him. Zagel stated, before declaring the sentence, how âÄúthe abuse of the office of governor is more damaging than the abuse of any other office except the presidentâÄôs.âÄù
The 18 convictions of corruption and attempting to sell favors âÄî including leveraging his power to appoint someone to the vacant senatorial seat left by President Barack Obama âÄî rightly represent the violation of public trust in government by a figure in power.
While tougher than any previous sentence for a convicted Illinois governor, the mandate is a loud message meant to reverberate in a state that has been plagued by political corruption for decades. A firm judgment was unequivocally much needed and welcomed.
Any good things that came from his governorship were clearly overshadowed by the magnitude of his actions meant to only do good for himself. As a trained lawyer, he lied to federal investigators. As executive officer of Illinois, he demanded donations in exchange for state money to go to a childrenâÄôs hospital.
For the last three years he continued to contest the âÄúwitch huntâÄù against him. ItâÄôs ironic that Blagojevich ran on a platform of âÄúreform and renewal,âÄù trying to draw a contrast between himself and shamed previous Illinois Gov. George Ryan, who is also currently serving prison time.
As Zagel said, âÄúThe harm here is not measured in the value of property or money. The harm is the erosion of public trust in government.âÄù