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Illinois legislature begins Blagojevich impeachment inquiry

[JURIST] The Illinois House of Representatives [official website] voted 113-0 Monday to begin an inquiry into whether Governor Rod Blagojevich [official website] should be impeached. House Speaker Michael Madigan [official profile] appointed a committee that will begin its investigation Tuesday, gathering evidence and testimony related to the charges. Hearings are expected to continue [Chicago Tribune report] for several weeks. If the committee recommends impeachment, it will go to a vote before the entire House. If the House votes to impeach, the proceedings will go before the Senate, which will act as a jury with the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court presiding. This is Illinois's first impeachment inquiry of a governor.

Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested [JURIST report] last week by federal agents on charges of corruption [complaint, PDF]. Both Blagojevich and Harris have been charged [DOJ press release, PDF] with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They are accused of conspiring to sell or trade the senate seat left vacant by Obama and obtaining illegal campaign contributions. They are also accused of threatening to withhold assistance to the Chicago Tribune with the sale of Wrigley Field unless two editorial writers who had been critical of Blagojevich were fired. Harris resigned his position Friday, while Blagojevich has continued to report to work. Also on Friday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official website] filed a motion [motion, PDF; JURIST report] with the Illinois Supreme Court [official website] to have Blagojevich declared unfit and removed temporarily from office.

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