Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog


A Fitzmas Special?

By Shawn Healy
Time to resume our regularly scheduled recount of the political drama sweeping Illinois politics with only seven shopping days remaining in a season that has already been recast as "Fitzmas." It is named after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who spearheaded an investigation of Illinois Governor Rod Blagoveich that has set off a feeding frenzy amid the holiday cheer.

Yesterday, the Illinois House took the first steps in an effort to impeach the sitting Governor, who was charged of orchestrating several pay-to-play schemes in a criminal complaint filed by Fitzgerald's office one week ago. A committee was formed and is set to meet today, composed of 12 Democrats and 9 Republicans. Like the federal process, if the charges are voted out of committee and also passed by the full House (all 113 members on hand yesterday voted in favor of beginning the proceedings), a trial is conducted in the State Senate.

Blagojevich could reasonably be convicted on impeachment charges and be removed from office, while also facing the federal criminal charges in a separate investigation. However, according to this New York Times piece, the allegations against Blagojevich specific to his scheming over the replacement of President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat may not hold up in court.

Speaking of the vacancy, the scrambling continues behind the scenes as to the process by which the seat will be filled. Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, should Blagojevich be relieved of his duties in one fashion or another, would have the power by law to make an appointment for the remaining two years of the term.

Last week, Quinn immediately called for a change to the law, allowing for a special election to coincide with previously scheduled municipal elections this coming spring. He then backtracked and claimed he was more than capable of making the decision himself. Most recently, he recalibrated his position once more, suggesting that he would make an immediate appointment so that Illinois had two senators serving on Day One of Obama's presidency, and a special election would follow to determine the individual who would serve the final two years of the term. Quinn promised that he would not appoint himself.

I remind you that Blagojevich is still the Governor and is thus fully capable of naming Obama's replacement until the day he is officially relieved of his duties. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pledged that he would not accept a replacement named by Blagojevich, and the Senate holds this authority to bar new members, so this checkmate stands.

Meanwhile, there is activity in the State Senate to move forward with a special election, although it is being pushed by Republicans and does not have the support of Senate President Emil Jones, a Democrat, at least as of now. The House adjourned yesterday after the impeachment vote, meaning that if it does act upon a special election measure, this will not take place until mid-January.

As citizens, it is interesting to watch from the sidelines as this political circus performs daily routines during the "Fitzmas" season, but perhaps we can do more. I invite you to weigh in on this blog with your own recommended solutions to this quagmire. Moreover, if you are a resident of Illinois, I encourage you to call your state representative and senator, or Lt. Gov. Quinn for that matter, and to voice your feelings about the various measures under debate (click here to find out who they are and to access their contact information). We, too, can play a role in cleaning up this pile of corrupt politics.


Post a Comment

<< Home


Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project

Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.

Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.

First Amendment journalism initiative

The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at