The speaker of the Illinois house is convening a special panel to determine if Governor Rod Blagojevich should be impeached on corruption charges.
Also, an internal review by the Obama transition team concluded there was no improper contact between the President-elect’s camp and Blagojevich’s office. Blagojevich is accused of trying to barter Obama’s vacated US Senate seat for political and personal favors.
Blagojevich was charged Dec. 9 with trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama. The governor also was charged with trying to force the Chicago Tribune to fire editorial page editors who opposed him, in exchange for help with the sale of properties by the company, which entered bankruptcy protection last week.
In recent days Republican operatives have speculated publicly, without evidence, about the role Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s incoming chief of staff, may have played in hypothetical negotiations over the disposition of the Senate seat.
Persons speaking on Emanuel’s behalf have acknowledged that he discussed who might be appointed to the Obama seat, but insist that nothing untoward had taken place.
At a news conference last week, Obama said he had no dealings with Blagojevich about whom to appoint to the Senate. He also said his staff had not had any inappropriate contacts, but Obama ordered the internal investigation.
Meanwhile, at a televised news conference, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said he has formed a committee of senior legislators to examine whether Blagojevich should be removed from office.
Depending on the committee recommendation, the full House will decide whether to file impeachment charges, the speaker said. Madigan said the committee will work every day except holidays.
Blagojevich’s top aide, also charged in the scandal, resigned last week.
“We have given the governor six days to resign,” said Madigan, a Chicago Democrat who has frequently clashed with Blagojevich. Madigan’s daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has asked the state’s top court to rule that the governor is unable to carry out his duties, thus clearing the way for Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn to take over the post. Lisa Madigan is considered a potential candidate for governor.