A movement is afoot to get President Donald Trump to pardon former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Former Illinois First Lady Patti Blagojevich is saying her husband is the victim of FBI targeting, something she apparently believes Trump can identify with.
It’s not necessarily an ineffective strategy on her part, but it certainly would be bad public policy if Blagojevich were to get special treatment.
The man belongs in prison. He was sentenced to 14 years and he has served six.
Yes, I can sympathize with the Blagojevich family. I’m sure his wife, Patti, and his two daughters miss him. But sadly, it’s a very American story. More than 1.57 million men and women sit in this nation’s prisons and jails. That’s a national disgrace.
We imprison a greater percentage of our citizens than any other industrialized nation. And sadly, the politicians who give out pardons seem much more concerned about the former politicians wanting pardons than about the other 1.5 million people.
Look no further than Blagojevich’s predecessor in the U.S. House of Representatives, Daniel Rostenkowski. After going to prison, President Bill Clinton decided to pardon the once powerful congressman. And then there is Mel Reynolds, a former congressman who was convicted of statutory rape and bank fraud. Clinton used his pardon pen to spring him from the can too.
And Richard Nixon pardoned labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. And Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon. And Ronald Reagan pardoned corrupt former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel. And Trump pardoned Joseph Arpaio, the former tough-guy sheriff and current Arizona U.S. Senate candidate.
You get the idea. If you want to get a pardon, it sure helps to have once been someone important.
I had a front row seat on Rod Blagojevich’s political self-immolation during his six years in office. During my 30 years in the news business, I’ve been lied to by the best of them, but he took political prevarication to a whole new level.
Blagojevich lied so much that he makes Bruce Rauner seem like a piker. And folks, that’s saying something.
Blagojevich is a man who blended arrogance with incompetence to create the most corrupt administration in the state’s history.
A lot of folks will remember Blagojevich for his dishonesty, most famously for trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat.
For me, it was the smaller slights that are the most memorable. A couple of years ago I listed a number of these in this column. Shortly after I published the list, I received a nasty note from Patti Blagojevich defending her husband.
I’ll spare you the details by just saying denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.
That said, it has to be hard for his wife and children to carry a surname synonymous with corruption. It’s not as if a Blagojevich can blend into the background like a Smith, Jones or Anderson.
Rod Blagojevich has pretty much exhausted his appeals.
He’s a man sinking in quicksand and running out of vines to grasp. A pardon looks like his only hope to leave prison early.
I understand why he wants to go home and I understand why his family wants him home. But I don’t understand why society would want to cut this guy a break.
The best argument I’ve heard is that this sort of “wheeling and dealing” is just part of the political process and Blagojevich’s offenses are no different than what other politicians do.
Sorry, Gov. Blagojevich’s actions were worse than just about anything I’ve seen in the nearly 30 years I’ve been covering Illinois politics.
And, yes, there is a lot of corruption in Illinois politics. But just because there are a lot of corrupt politicians, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adequately punish any of them.
Rod Blagojevich should serve every minute the judge gave him.
– Scott Reeder is a veteran statehouse journalist. He works as a freelance reporter in the Springfield area and produces the podcast Suspect Convictions.