National Opinions

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Blagojevich must go

Illinois Gov. Rod Blago- jevich must resign.

His arrest Tuesday on federal corruption charges that he tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President elect-Barack Obama to the highest bid- der makes it impossible for him to serve.

Given the allegations contained in a 76-page criminal complaint, it's difficult to see how Blago- jevich could govern with any credibility, much less appoint a successor to Obama.

If the charges are true, they offer up a sordid display of just how far he and his chief of staff, John Harris -- also arrested -- were willing to go to profit from power.

The alleged actions occurred while federal authorities were invest- igating corruption at the state's highest levels.

Blagojevich, a Demo- crat, denies wrongdoing. Many of his conversation were caught on wiretaps.

Whether he's guilty or not, Blagojevich cannot be trusted to make the appointment to fill Obama's Senate seat. Whomever he appoints would serve under a cloud.

Impeachment proceed- ings should follow if Blagojevich declines to quit, but if the governor retains even a shred of decency, he won't try to hang on.

Furthermore, if any of the candidates can be shown to have agreed to the "pay to play" scheme described in the com- plaint, they are obviously unfit for office and should be subject to investigation as well.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, an intrepid prosecutor, made a name by securing a conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, in the Plamegate scandal.

He also successfully prosecuted Blagojevich's predecessor, GOP Gov. George Ryan, on influ- ence-peddling charges.

Fitzgerald said he ordered the arrest to stop what he described as a "political corruption crime spree."

Two things must hap- pen: Blagojevich must step down, and the Illinois legislature must call a special election to replace Obama.

This critical Senate seat must not be left to the whim of another Illinois politician.

  Comments