Sunday, February 14, 2016

Accidental justice

Accidental justice


You didn't need a weatherman, a rocket scientist or a hairdresser to see that disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was a small-time dirty-dealing pol -- someone who was eager to sell a United States Senate seat to the highest bidder as soon as he could figue out the best way to do that.

At the same time, it was clear that when it came to the actual federal corruption case against Blago, something just didn't add up. The actual charges never lived up to the hype -- most famously, he never did end up selling that Senate seat, did he? It sure looked like the infamously zealous federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald -- his wiretaps exposed too early -- raced in with a kitchen sink indictment:

This verdict should not be a surprise to anyone. For a long time knowledgeable observers in Chicago have looked at the government's charges and really thought that there was no there there. The fact that the Governor had not benefited at all from any of his alleged machinations played a huge role.

But looking at the case, you really see that Fitzgerald blew it. Essentially these charges were drawn up overnight after the Chicago Tribune called Fitzgerald in his office and told him that they were running a story the next day that the U.S. Attorney's Office was tapping the Governor's telephones. Not a single completed crime had occurred.

So what happened in the end? 1) Blago was impeached and forced from office, to the benefit of the good people of Illimois 2) He was also convicted of a federal crime, lying to the FBI 3) The bulk of the charges that could have sent Blago up the river for longer than he probably deserved are still in legal limbo, and one hopes they will disappear even though they probably won't, not yet.

So Blago is out of the governor's mansion but probably won't do much if any jail time. That smells like justice -- totally by accident.

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Will Bunch
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