Rod Blagojevich sues so he can again seek election
Rod Blagojevich is out of federal prison, and now wants to be back on the ballot. Illinois’ former governor sued Aug. 2 for the right to run for public office again despite his conviction for public corruption.
On the steps of Chicago’s Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, where he was convicted of trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced, “I’m back.”
Blagojevich filed a lawsuit against the State of Illinois to win back his right to run for office. He lost that right Jan. 29, 2009, after the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to permantly disqualify him following another unanimous vote to convict him on broad articles of impeachment.
“I’m not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing,” Blagojevich said.
Blagojevich was caught on a federal wiretap trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President Barack Obama.
“I’ve got this thing and it’s (expletive) golden,” Blagojevich said Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Obama’s victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park. “I’m not just giving it up for (expletive) nothing.”
Blagojevich was arrested by federal agents a month later and convicted in 2010 of different pay-to-play schemes involving politicians, a children’s hospital and the Chicago Tribune. He was sentenced to 14 years on 18 criminal counts.
But on Feb. 18, 2020, eight years into his sentence, Blagojevich received a call: President Donald Trump pardoned the former governor.
“That was a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion and in the opinion of many others,” Trump said.
Blagojevich was free within hours and flew home to Chicago that night. The next morning he christened himself a “Trumpocrat” and promised “to turn an injustice into a justice.”
Blagojevich’s federal lawsuit claims the Illinois General Assembly acted unconstitutionally when they forbid him from calling and questioning witnesses during his 2009 impeachment trial. In this lawsuit, Blagojevich expressed interest in calling disgraced former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan as a witness.
If he prevails, Blagojevich could regain the right to run for elected office.
“I have no plans to run for any particular office,” Blagojevich said. “However, I am not going to rule out any options either. I feel like I was a great governor for the people.”