The Illinois House of Representatives has voted to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich—again. Last Friday, they voted 144-1-1 to impeach him, but a new General Assembly was sworn in, following the elections last November, so the House had to vote to impeach the governor all over again. So, right after being sworn in, they voted 117-1 to impeach.
The lone vote against impeachment came from newly-elected Democrat Deb Mell of Chicago, who is Blagojevich’s sister-in-law. Propriety and ethics would seem to suggest that she should’ve abstained, but that’s obviously not how she saw it. She refused to talk to reporters afterward, so we have no idea why she did it*. Whatever her reason, it’s not a good look.
In related news, I was glad to see the Roland Burris saga come to an end. While US Senate Democrats are right that the appointment of Burris is “tainted” because it came from Blogojevich, it was nevertheless perfectly legal and in accordance with the Illinois Constitution. The US Senate had no legal right to refuse to seat him in the first place.
My predictions: Blogojevich will be convicted in the Illinois Senate and then he’ll launch a futile legal challenge that will cost Illinois taxpayers even more money. Roland Burris will serve as a sort of “caretaker” Senator. If he runs for the office in 2010, he will lose in the Democratic Primary or—if he squeaks through—he'll lose in the General Election. Mind you, we’re talking about Illinois politics here—anything could happen.
*Update: Mell issued a statement saying she “could not in good conscience vote for [Blagojevich’s] impeachment.” She said that she’s known him for more than 20 years and that “charges in the impeachment were difficult to reconcile with the man and brother-in-law I know." She added, "I regard him as innocent until proven guilty and many of my constituents have expressed this view." Maybe so, but I still think that abstention was the proper thing to do.