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Monday, April 15, 2024

Judge blasts Blagojevich in brutal takedown

CHICAGO — In a scathing and stinging decision – that was as much poetry as it was mockery – a federal judge denied former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s effort to overturn his ineligibility to hold office.

“More than a decade ago, Governor Rod Blagojevich left the Dirksen Federal Building in disgrace,” Judge Steve Seeger wrote about Blagojevich’s 2009 public corruption conviction. “At that point, Blagojevich’s career came to a close. The music stopped, the curtain fell, and he exited stage left.  He’s back;” Judge Seeger declared in the first paragraphs of his ten-page decision.

More than a decade after he was convicted – and after spending eight years in prison – Blagojevich went back to the courthouse where he was convicted to claim the Illinois legislature was wrong to ban him from running for office in the future. The ban was a result of his impeachment. However, the judge’s new order said the judiciary has “no power to unimpeach, unconvict and unremove a public official.”  

Former President Donald Trump commuted Blagojevich’s prison sentence and he was released in 2019. Since then, Illinois’ disgraced democratic governor has sold videos on Cameo and professed a kinship with Trump claiming they were both victims of a “witch hunt.”

The judge seemed to make fun of the former governor’s efforts to remain in the public spotlight.

“Blagojevich didn’t have a graceful exit from public life. It was disgraceful,” Seeger wrote. “And by the looks of things, it wasn’t even an exit. Because Blagojevich wants back in the game, and back on center stage, microphone in hand.”

Seeger referenced this 2021 WGN News report on Blagojevich’s attempts to clear the way for a comeback.  

“I may or may not run for public office again, I don’t have any particular plans to do it I don’t have any plans to do it. The very thought of doing all that again makes me groan,” Blagojevich said outside the courthouse in 2021 after filing his complaint.

Seeger’s denial in the case referenced the circus-like atmosphere that Blagojevich has brought with him to the courthouse over the years. The judge’s opinion even managed to work-in a Dr. Seuss reference. “The time has come. The time has come.  The time is now. Just go. Go. GO! I don’t care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow… will you please go now!” the judge quoted from the children’s book.

Blagojevich’s spokesperson responded to the denial with a post on X: “The federal judge’s ruling comes as no surprise,” Mark Vargas statement on behalf of Blagojevich read. “The law banning Rod Blagojevich from running for office in Illinois is unconstitutional. The people should be able to decide who they want or don’t want to represent them – not federal judges or establishment politicians who are afraid of governors who fight for the people.”

Perhaps anticipating Blagojevich wouldn’t cede the issue, Seeger closed his opinion by writing: “The case started with a megaphone, but it ends with a whimper. Sometimes cases in the federal courthouse attract publicity. But the courthouse is no place for a publicity stunt,” the judge wrote before closing with three simple sentences:  “He wants back. But he’s already gone.  Case dismissed.”

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