Impeachment proceedings start against Blagojevich

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois House voted 113-0 Monday to begin impeachment proceedings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich, creating an investigations committee to consider allegations that the two-term Democrat abused his office and may have participated in criminal activity.

But the House also held off on calls to strip the disgraced governor of his power to appoint President-elect Obama's successor, angering Republicans who accused Democrats of a power play aimed at protecting their dominance of state politics.

The vote to start an impeachment investigation came six days after Blagojevich was arrested at his home on a host of pay-to-play allegations, included trying to peddle the vacant Senate seat. The House panel is expected to hold several weeks of hearings, scheduled to begin today, and has the power to issue subpoenas and compel witnesses to testify.

The panel also will seek information from the U.S. Attorney's office as well as information gained from other parts of the federal investigation.

"This is not a kangaroo court," said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat and House Speaker Michael Madigan's top lieutenant, who will chair the investigations panel. "It's absolutely critical that we do this deliberately, that we don't rush to judgment."

Blagojevich retained noted criminal defense attorney Ed Genson on Monday and showed no signs of giving up his post, signing a dozen bills into law. "Talk of impeachment is nothing new to the governor, and once the House makes its recommendation then he will have more to say," said spokesman Lucio Guerrero.

Genson sought to downplay the federal government's complaint. "The case that I've seen so far is significantly exaggerated," he told ABC News.

Obama said Monday that a review by his own lawyer shows he had no direct contact with Blagojevich about the appointment of a Senate replacement, and that transition aides did nothing inappropriate.

Obama pledged to make the review public, but said he decided to hold off because prosecutors asked for a delay and "I don't want to interfere with an ongoing investigation." U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald confirmed the request.

Impeachment proceedings start against Blagojevich 12/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 12:56pm]

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