Saturday 18 January 2020

Rod Blagojevich begins 14-year sentence for trying to sell Barack Obama's US Senate seat

Rod Blagojevich departs his home in Chicago today. Photo: AP
Rod Blagojevich departs his home in Chicago today. Photo: AP

OUSTED Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich reports to prison today to serve a 14-year sentence for trying to auction off President Barack Obama's vacated US Senate seat and a host of other corruption charges.



The Democratic governor was arrested in the midst of what prosecutors called a "political corruption crime spree" just weeks after Mr Obama's historic November 2008 election.



Blagojevich was convicted of 17 corruption counts in June after his first trial resulted in a hung jury on all but one of the charges.



The expletive-laden transcripts of Blagojevich's secretly recorded conversations and his subsequent antics created fascinating political theater and the flamboyant politico refused to leave quietly.



He held a press conference outside his home Wednesday where supporters chanted "free our governor" as Blagojevich insisted "this is not over" and that everything he did "was on the right side of the law."



"We are appealing the case," Blagojevich told reporters. "We have faith in the future, faith in the rule of law."



While Obama managed to emerge untainted, the scandal shone a spotlight on the state's corruption-filled political scene and cast a shadow on his early days in office.



Five of the past nine Illinois governors have been indicted or arrested for fraud or bribery. Blagojevich's predecessor, Republican George Ryan, is currently serving a six-and-a-half year jail term for fraud and racketeering.

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