Tuesday, August 17, 2010

EXTRA: No matter the counts, still guilty

After all the rhetoric we’ve heard in recent years about then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich trying to “sell” a U.S. Senate appointment to the highest bidder, tried to get a $50,000 “donation” to his campaign from officials at Children’s Memorial Hospital and in general tried to get people to cough up cash so he could create a foundation someday that would pay him to work as little as possible, a lone count conviction seems like nothing.

The jury that spent 14 days deliberating after several weeks of listening to testimony only came back with one guilty verdict, and 23 undecideds.


Back in March of 2005, Blagojevich was less than honest in describing the way his campaign committee handled the contributions that came in from various entities. Blagojevich talked of having “firewalls” in place to keep from being wrongly influenced by would-be donors.

The jury seems to think those donors did have some influence over the former governor’s thinking.

That seems a long ways away from the notion that gave this trial its national cache to begin with – soliciting bribes from people who were interested in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate after he was elected president two years ago.

OF COURSE, THE bottom line is that the headlines that will appear in the newspapers on Wednesday will be something along the lines of “Guilty!” Rod Blagojevich faces the prospect of up to a five-year term in a federal prison for that one guilty count. Until Blagojevich the governor can find an appeals court to say otherwise, he will be considered a convicted felon.

And it is definite that the federal prosecutors will be “sore losers” and will insist on doing the trial all over again. Perhaps they think they will get a jury next time that will be more inclined to trust the prosecutors when they say something illegal was done.

Although it would be nice if they could scale back the effort. Fewer charges. Something more simple for a jury to comprehend. Which may result in the desired prosecutorial verdict of “guilty, times 23” (or however many charges wind up being filed next time).

The U.S. Attorney’s office threw out its hints of re-trial on Tuesday, and they have until Aug. 26 to make their intentions known officially. That is when this matter returns to the Dirksen Building.


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