• Editorial
  • ‘The face of public corruption in Illinois' is all smiles

    Blago's release shines a harsh national spotlight on exactly what's still wrong with Illinois—and signals to those responsible that even if they are someday held accountable, it may not be for long.


    79彩票注册网址Rod Blagojevich at home on Feb. 19


    79彩票注册网址By freeing Rod Blagojevich from federal prison, President Donald Trump did the disgraced former governor an enormous favor. Unfortunately, he didn't do any favors for the scandal-plagued state of Illinois.

    Let's start by conceding that the president has the absolute right, conferred to him via his Article II powers, to pardon or commute the sentence of anyone he pleases at any time, without regard for how that action will be viewed by the press, by the opposition party, or even by history. Let's also hold Trump's pardon tally so far up against : Franklin Roosevelt, in his lengthy tenure, issued a whopping 2,819 pardons, the most of any U.S. president. Barack Obama for issuing the most commutations, with 1,715, besting Woodrow Wilson's previous record of 1,366. By these standards, Trump is a relative piker: As of this writing, he's granted 25 pardons and 10 commutations—though one gets the feeling he may merely be warming up.

    Let's even set aside the concern that Trump, by wiping clean the records of junk bond king Michael Milken and law-and-order enthusiast (with certain exceptions) Bernie Kerik, while shortening the length of Blagojevich's stay in the Crowbar Hotel, appeared to depart from long-established Justice Department on the review of applications for presidential mercy.

    For Illinoisans, Trump's decision to issue our colorful ex-governor a Get Out Of Jail Free card comes at a lousy time79彩票注册网址, when ongoing federal probes are revealing the heights and depths of corruption at seemingly all levels of government. Jim Durkin, the top Republican in the Illinois House, put it succinctly: "This sends a terrible message to the citizens of Illinois, especially during the current federal investigation and continued corruption in Illinois."

    In a joint statement, Illinois' entire GOP congressional delegation—Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis and Mike Bost—chimed in as well: "We believe he received an appropriate and fair sentence, which was the low-end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions. Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters. As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn't let those who breached the public trust off the hook. History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well."

    Members of Blagojevich's own party agreed, issuing statements on the day the news broke that could easily have been written by one of the ex-governor's most ardent former opponents.

    79彩票注册网址Blago certainly isn't the only Illinois pol who has abused the public trust. If he were, the denizens of City Hall and the Capitol Building wouldn't be as worried as they are that every person they meet is wearing a wire. But Illinois voters have a right to expect better of their elected leaders—and much work has been done in the past decade or so to reverse the city and state's tattered reputation as a place where justice, fair treatment under the law and the opportunity to get ahead are available only to those with helpful connections and deep pockets. Blago's release only shines a harsh national spotlight on exactly what's still wrong with Illinois—and signals to those responsible that even if they are someday held accountable, it may not be for long.

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