Enough, already.


The Illinois General Assembly is planning to return to Springfield next week. The idea is to change state law so that Gov. Rod Blagojevich cannot appoint Barack Obama's US Senate replacement.


That may nor may not be a good idea The first problem which springs to mind is that Blagojevich, who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to auction Obama's vacant seat to the highest bidder, would have to sign the bill into law.


Our jailbird governor could sit on the bill for 60 days before he does anything. And he might just veto it, which would only prolong the process.


Democratic US Senator Dick Durbin supports this idea. But the Democratic campaign consultants I've talked to are worried to death that a Republican like moderate Congressman Mark Kirk could win a special election because Blagojevich's arrest and subsequent prosecution could easily ruin a Democratic candidate.


Still, that's neither here nor there.


The bottom line is that Obama's replacement can wait a while.


What Illinois needs most right now is to excise this fatal tumor on our body politic.


Rod Blagojevich has been an astoundingly bad governor. His list of achievements is short and unimpressive. He has alienated almost the entire political establishment in Illinois. He is currently the most unpopular governor in the United States. And now we learn that he allegedly tried to sell a US Senate seat, "like a sports agent," according to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.


Illinois has, according to Fitzgerald, been subjected to a "political corruption crime spree."


It's time for that crime spree to end.


The Illinois House needs to convene as soon as possible and begin impeachment proceedings. Fitzgerald's criminal complaint has basically given the General Assembly a 78-page road map.


We're not talking a lot of hearsay. Much of Fitzgerald's criminal complaint is composed of the governor's own words caught on federal surveillance tapes.


All the House has to do is stipulate that Blagojevich's words caught on tape are facts and then vote on whether that should be an impeachable offense.


For instance, the governor is quoted as saying this about Obama's people refusing to go along with a quid pro quo for the US Senate seat appointment: "They’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F___ them."


Here's our governor talking about using the Senate appointment for financial gain: "(T)he immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family."


The governor sure has a way with words: "I’ve got this thing and it’s f____ golden and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for f___ nothing. I’m not gonna do it."


Blagojevich was also caught talking about using $8 million in state pediatric funding to extract a $50,000 campaign contribution from Children's Memorial Hospital: "I’m going to do $8 million for them. I want to get [Hospital Executive 1] for 50."


There's more, but you've probably already read most of the quotes yourself.


The Illinois Constitution's guidelines for impeachment are pretty bare bones. Impeachment requires just a majority vote in the House. There's no "high crimes and misdemeanors" language as in the US Constitution.


After the House votes to impeach, a two-thirds vote in the Senate is all that's needed to remove Blagojevich from office.


And then he'd be gone. Forever.


Blagojevich's attorney said Tuesday that his client did nothing wrong and has no intention to resign. He's expected to be back in his office today.


Knowing him as I do, I am absolutely sure that Gov. Blagojevich thinks he's in the clear. So nothing will stop this man except impeachment. This necessity can no longer be delayed.


Get it over with.




Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.


The following is the column originally intended for publication on December 11, 2008 – before Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested


If last week's Chicago Tribune blockbuster story is accurate, then Gov. Rod Blagojevich's ultimate inner circle has been successfully penetrated by US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. 


The Tribune cited unidentified sources to claim that bigtime lobbyist John Wyma's cooperation allowed federal investigators to make "covert tape recordings" of Gov. Rod Blagojevich.


You just can't get more "inside" than Wyma. 


"Whenever decisions were being made, Wyma was always around," said a longtime Blagojevich insider last week.  "Nobody is closer to Rod." 


Blagojevich, like his imprisoned predecessor George Ryan, has way too often mixed campaign fundraising with government policy, and Wyma was one of the people who appeared to be at the center of that strategy. 


Convicted felon Tony Rezko was also a part of that game, but Wyma has been known to hang out at Blagojevich's house for hours, playing chess and swapping stories.  Rezko was never Wyma-style close to Blagojevich. 


Chris Kelly was a much closer Blagojevich friend than Wyma, and Kelly and Wyma reportedly were at odds over the years about who really had the governor's ear.  But it was Wyma who truly put all the pieces together with the fundraising and the lobbying. 


Rezko is in prison, Kelly is awaiting trial on a tax beef, and now Wyma is apparently cooperating with the G. 


Usually, folks just don't volunteer to help the US Attorney bug their buddies.  And even if the occasional altruistic citizen might, very few will do something like that out of the goodness of their heart to a close friend and a guy who has made them millions of dollars.


So I suppose it's possible that John Wyma graciously offered to help the feds record conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but history and common sense tells us that if the Tribune story is correct and Wyma did provide assistance, then the feds may have had something on him. Wyma's attorney claims his client did not know about the existence of a wire.


What, though?  There are quite a few things out there.  One item that continually pops up on my radar screen is Wyma's purchase of a condominium from a guy whose company got a a no-bid, $2 million contract from the Illinois Toll Highway Authority the day before the condo deal closed.  First Lady Patti Blagojevich was the realtor of record. 


It's been openly speculated that the feds are trying to nail Mrs. Blagojevich on something as a way to get at Gov. Blagojevich, so who knows how far they took that particular lead.


Wyma has had so many dealings with the governor on millions of dollars in lobbying business that it's probably impossible to say for sure what exactly went down. 


It's implied in the Tribune piece that Wyma's help might have led to the recording of a conversation between himself, the governor and Blagojevich's former chief of staff Lon Monk in a meeting at Blagojevich's campaign office. That meeting took place two weeks after Wyma was hit with a subpoena relating to an investigation of how Provena Health won the right to expand its offered services.  Provena insists it is not a subject of interest, but Blagojevich did receive a $25,000 campaign contribution from the hospital — which appears to be the standard access price for this administration. 


Whatever it was, Blagojevich now has almost nobody to turn to. His inner sanctum has been defiled, and it's unlikely that he can trust anyone else at the moment.  That's mostly his own fault, of course.  His circle has mostly been populated with sycophants who are out only for their own pocket books. 


The other question on many minds is: Why did this story emerge when it did?


Well, perhaps the Tribune discovered the story on its own, so timing depended on how the reporters worked their leads.  The grand juries often meet on Thursdays and this story was reported on a Friday morning.


It's also possible, perhaps even probable, that the feds leaked the story.  If there was a leak, it seems the most likely reason was to send a crystal clear message to all involved that the government's case is mighty strong with or without Tony Rezko. 


Rezko has asked to be sentenced right away rather than continue to negotiate a deal with the feds, which leads many to believe that he has gone mum, and/or that the feds are giving him a rough time about the accuracy of his information.  


But if the feds have Wyma, they probably don't need Rezko.  At least, that appears to be the message.


Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com.