[JURIST] A committee of the Illinois House of Representatives [official website] on Thursday voted unanimously to recommend the impeachment [report, PDF] of Governor Rod Blagojevich [official website; JURIST news archive]. The committee was appointed [JURIST report] last month to gather evidence and testimony regarding the charges [complaint, PDF] against Blagojevich. US federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald asked the committee to limit its impeachment inquiry [JURIST report] and avoid looking into the criminal charges, warning that such an inquiry could hamper the investigation. In its 78-page report, the committee concluded:
The Governor faces an array of criminal charges related to his official conduct as Governor. The Governor's appointment of a U.S. Senator, pursuant to a valid state law, has been questioned because of a lack of trust in the Governor. The federal Government no longer trusts the Governor with vital security information to which other governors routinely have access. Our State's and Nation's highest elected officers have asked the Governor to resign. The drop in bond ratings will cost the State millions of dollars because of the Governor's arrest. Whether the people of this State retain confidence in the Governor is a question that each member of this Committee, and perhaps the full House, must answer.The issue will now go to a vote before the entire House. If 60 of the 118 House members vote 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. Forty of the Senate's 59 members must vote to convict Blagojevich to remove him from office. Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn [official website] has said that he hopes Blagojevich will resign [Chicago Tribune report] before impeachment proceedings advance.
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 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 [JURIST report] his position after the arrest, while Blagojevich has continued to report to work. Last month, the Illinois Supreme Court [official website] rejected [JURIST report] a bid by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan [official profile] to have Blagojevich temporarily removed from office [JURIST report].
11:37 AM ET - The Illinois House of Representatives has voted 114-1 to impeach Blagojevich.