Facts about Rod Blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich Biography
Rod Blagojevich is the Illinois governor who was arrested by federal agents on corruption charges, impeached and removed from office by the Illinois Senate in 2009. His level of corruption was such that he was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison in 2011.
In 2020, President Donald Trump commuted his sentence, saying, “He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.” Having failed in the courts to overturn his conviction, Blagojevich — or, as reported, his wife — lobbied Trump, who agreed to release the disgraced ex-governor.
“Blago” (as he was known in the press) was accused of scheming to sell an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama, who had been elected U.S. president in November of 2008.
Rod Blagojevich is the son of a Serbian immigrant and grew up in Chicago. He went to college at Northwestern (graduating in 1979) and earned a law degree from Pepperdine University in 1983, then hired on as a Cook County (Illinois) Assistant State’s Attorney.
He was elected to the state General Assembly in 1992, and to the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’ 5th District in 1996. Running as a reformer, Blagojevich was elected governor in 2002, becoming the state’s first Democratic governor in 26 years. He was reelected in 2006.
Sen. Obama was elected president in November of 2008, and Gov. Blagojevich had full power to appoint Obama’s successor.
But in a stunning development, Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents at his home on 9 December 2008 and charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.
The U.S. Department of Justice said wiretaps proved Blagojevich had tried to obtain “personal financial benefits” by “leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator”; had threatened to withhold state assistance to the parent company of The Chicago Tribune unless the paper fired editorial board members who were critical of him; and had asked for campaign contributions in exchange for other official actions.
Blagojevich was released after preliminary hearings. Despite his arrest, Blagojevich appointed former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris to fill Obama’s seat, and Burris was seated in the U.S. Senate in 2009.
Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois Senate on 9 January 2009, and then convicted and removed from office on 29 January 2009 (he was succeeded by the lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn).
An unrepentant Blagojevich was tried on federal charges, and in August of 2010 a jury convicted him on one charge of lying to the F.B.I. and deadlocked on 23 other charges.
In June of 2011, a second jury found him guilty on 17 counts that included soliciting bribes, attempted extortion, and wire fraud. In December of that year, he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
His name is pronounced “bla-GOYA-vich,” according to his official site as governor… Rod Blagojevich married the former Patricia “Patti” Mell in 1990. They have two daughters, Amy (born circa 1996) and Annie (b. 2003)… Patricia’s father, Richard Mell, is a longtime alderman from Chicago’s 33rd district; he and Blagojevich began a public feud in 2005… Rod Blagojevich’s predecessor as governor, George Ryan, was also convicted of corruption, in 2006, and was sentenced to six years in federal prison.