Risinger: Guv should resign, step aside or face impeachment

DeWayne Bartels
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich,was taken into custody this morning by federal agents at his suburban Chicago home.

State Sen. Dale Risinger (R-Peoria) said, just moments ago, Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich should resign or step aside and let Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn step in as acting governor.

“I’d hate to see an impeachment trial, but if he doesn’t step aside or resign an impeachment should move forward,” Risinger said.

Risinger said he believes Quinn could move the state forward in a way that Blagojevich cannot now that he is under federal indictment. 

Blagojevich was arrested this morning by the FBI in Chicago for allegedly trying to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat of Barack Obama, among other charges.

The charges include: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a U.S. senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect Jan. 1, 2009.

The senator said any appointment Blagojevich would make to fill the unexpired term of President-elect Barack Obama would be under a cloud.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has suggested a special election be held. Risinger said he could live with that, but that it would also be very expensive.

The preferable choice, he said, is for Blagojevich to either resign or step aside temporarily and let Quinn take over as governor.

“Whether you like Quinn or not, I think people trust he is a man of his word,” Risinger said.

“I think Quinn is better today than he was a few years ago as a consensus builder.”

Risinger said the state needs someone in the governor’s chair who can build consensus between the two parties and the two houses of the Illinois General Assembly.

Risinger said he was little surprised at this morning’s news. He said he was not surprised the FBI knocked on the governor’s door. He was surprised it was about  an alleged attempt to sell Obama’s vacant senate seat.

“I thought he was smarter than that,” Risinger said.

“Illinois already has a reputation. We don’t need this.”

Risinger said this development will have an impact on all Illinois residents.

For one thing, he said, it will just get that much harder to get good people to run.

He added the state’s financial crisis will not likely get better with this cloud hanging over the governor.

“Illinois is in budget problems. We need to address that. In February the governor is supposed to give us a budget address,” Risinger said.

“I don’t know if we’ll get one or not. We will have a bunch of new leaders in both houses. That’s enough of an adjustment to make with out this on top of it. It will affect every Illinois resident if we don’t get a budget done.”