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Illinois House Votes to Impeach Gov. Blagojevich

“It’s our duty to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that’s become Illinois government,” said Democratic Rep. Jack D. Franks, reported the Associated Press.

Impeachment required just 60 votes. The final result was 114-1.

Gov. Blagojevich was jogging in his Chicago neighborhood during the vote. But before leaving his house in a black jogging suit, reported the AP, he berated members of the media for bothering his neighbors and refused to respond to questions. His office declined to comment, but said he would issue a statement Friday afternoon.

Gov. Blagojevich, 52, was arrested Dec. 9 on federal charges that he tried to profit from his authority to name Mr. Obama’s replacement in the Senate. The criminal complaint included an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit describing wiretaps that caught Blagojevich allegedly talking about what he could get for the seat and how to pressure people into making campaign contributions.

On Thursday, a special Illinois House committee unanimously recommended impeachment based on the criminal charges but other allegations as well: that Gov. Blagojevich expanded a health care program without proper authority and that he ignored hiring laws to give jobs to political allies.

“The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own,” the committee’s report said. “It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Gov. Blagojevich has denied the criminal charges. He criticized the House impeachment process as biased and said a Senate trial would produce a different result. He did not testify before the House impeachment committee and has not explained the federal charges.

“His silence in this great matter is deafening,” said Chicago Democrat and House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, reported the AP.

Chicago Democrat Rep. Milton Patterson made the only vote against impeachment. “I have no firsthand knowledge of any of the evidence,” Patterson said. “I went by my own gut feeling, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “I read the report. If the government is going to indict him, let them go ahead and do that. That’s their job and I’m doing my job.”

Rep. Elga Jefferies, another Chicago Democrat, voted “present.”

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