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Supreme Court May Give Blago Get Out of Jail Free Card November 30, 2009

The entire universe is pretty much aware that when it comes to Chicago, there is a distance between political reason and justice. This morning after awaking from a wonderful relaxing Obama free holiday weekend, I open the Chicago Tribune to find this story about former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:

Anti-corruption law: Supreme Court decision could derail ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s trial

Justices are asked to scale back or strike down prosecutors’ key tool for public corruption cases

November 30, 2009

By David G. Savage

Tribune Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The nation’s most potent law against public corruption could be in danger of being scaled back or struck down by the Supreme Court, threatening a series of high-profile cases, including those of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Washington lobbyists who worked for Jack Abramoff and several jailed corporate chiefs.At issue in court arguments in early December is a ban on “honest-services fraud,” often used against public officials who accept money, free tickets or well-paying jobs for their spouses and children in cases where bribery cannot be proved.”In Chicago, this was our go-to statute. Every major public corruption case in the last 10 years relied heavily on an honest-services charge,” said Patrick Collins, formerly a top anti-corruption prosecutor for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in Chicago. These cases include the conviction of former Gov. George Ryan.The trial of Blagojevich is set to begin in June, but Collins said it could be derailed by a high court decision. “If the court were to gut the statute, the prosecution would have to think long and hard about how to restructure the case. (Honest-services fraud) is the core operating theory of the case,” he said.In Washington, anti-corruption activists fear the court’s ruling could take away from prosecutors their best tool for combating the culture of gift giving and cozy deals between lobbyists and members of Congress and their staffs.”It would undercut public corruption cases across the board,” if the court struck down the law against honest-services fraud, said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Opponents say honest-services fraud is vague and ill-defined. It fails to spell out, for example, the point when a friendship turns into a criminal scheme. Julian Solotorovsky, another former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said the court should strike down the law and force Congress to spell out what is a crime. “There is no vaguer statute on the books than this one,” he said. “I’m surprised it’s taken 21 years to get this before the Supreme Court.”

In New York, the former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is on trial in an honest-services fraud case for allegedly obtaining $3.2 million in private consulting fees from clients who had business before the legislature. His fate is before the jury.

Last month, a jury in Washington was told Abramoff’s lobbying operation spent more than $5 million between 2000 and 2005 doling out free tickets to sporting events and concerts for members of Congress and their staffs. But the jury could not reach a verdict on a series of honest-services fraud charges against Kevin Ring, a former congressional staffer who worked for Abramoff. The judge put off a retrial until the Supreme Court rules on the law.

In recent decades the Supreme Court has made prosecuting public officials more difficult.




My reaction to this story while seemingly defeatist, should be understandable when one takes into consideration where I live. Blago will get off free as a bird. If corrupt Illinois politicians actually went to and stayed in jail, would we really have corrupt Illinois politicians???


Todd Stroger (D-IL) Cook County Borad President and the reason for 10.25% sales tax in Chicago. The highest in the nation.

I have a very clear idea that Illinois is a lost cause. The citizens of the “Land of Lincoln” will continue to elect corrupt Democratic politicians such as Blago, Daley, Todd “sales tax 10.25%” Stroger, and others I will not mention. Despite Stroger’s veto of the tax roll back, he remains on the Democratic primary ballot for Cook County Board President. His challenger Cook County Clerk, Dorothy Brown, withdrew from the race after withdrawing her challenge to signatures on Stroger’s nominating petitions. Interestingly, the only “corrupt” Illinois politician that has remained in jail is former Gov. George Ryan who is a Republican. Gee, I wonder what that is all about?


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5 Responses to “Supreme Court May Give Blago Get Out of Jail Free Card”

  1. John Morris Says:

    In IMHO the only clear rational path is for those semi rational and solvent states to secede from the union.

    Do you think, Michigan, California and most of the Democrat controled “rust belt states” would have lasted this long without massive handouts and defacto subsides from the rest of the country? Michigan on it’s own would soon go the way of Zimbabwe.

    There’s no other step that can fix things quickly– and that’s what’s needed.

    Perhaps, dramatic steps by states like Texas, Utah and Alaska to remove themselves will get people to snap out of it, or perhaps not but at least part of the country can go on and return to freedom and the rule of law.

  2. frigginloon Says:

    You can’t put someone in jail with that hair, it’s just not right!

  3. bydesign001 Says:

    The last thing we need here in NYS is that slug Joseph Bruno getting off.

    Furthermore, just imagine the Obama administration going buck wild on that. What a nightmare!

  4. boldandbald Says:

    This same law has resulted in numerous cases here in CT, as well. In some cases this law can be used as a which hunt against an opponent. However, politicians need to understand that once they are elected to office they can no longer take any ‘freebies’ or special discounts. Period. No exceptions. Not even from long time friends. Perhaps giving the law more specifics would be a good thing, but I would guess that those in Washington would most likely fill it with more loopholes rather than eliminate them.

  5. John Morris Says:

    I must admit this is a problem for politicians but it’s one of their own making.

    As they grab for more and more power and control over more and more of the economy, it’s only right that the people have more and more right to examine all their activities, freinds, gifts, cars, investments etc….

    It’s absolutely none of our business what Tiger Woods is doing but we have at least the right to know every last little thing our so called public servants are doing.

    In fact, one can make a solid case that they should be on 24 hour internet video.

    If we as Americans can no longer have a free life– these people can’t either.

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