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Blagojevich fails to meet second deadline to answer impeachment charges

[JURIST] Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich [official website, JURIST news archive] on Tuesday allowed a second deadline to lapse without filing formal answers to his impeachment charges [JURIST report]. The Illinois State Senate [official website] established a January 17 deadline to file an answer and a January 20 deadline to seek dismissal of the charges, with impeachment proceedings set to begin January 26. A spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton [official profile] said Wednesday that if the Senate does not receive a formal response from Blagojevich, it will enter a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Blagojevich will become the first governor in Illinois history to face an impeachment trial in the State Senate after the Illinois House of Representatives [official website] voted 114-1 to impeach earlier this month. Last week, lawyers for Blagojevich announced that they will boycott those impeachment proceedings [JURIST report] as a protest against Senate procedures they believe will rob Blagojevich of his due process rights. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested [JURIST report] last month by federal agents on charges of corruption. 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 President Barack Obama, obtaining illegal campaign contributions, and 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 after the arrest, while Blagojevich has continued to report to work.

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