ICPR Executive Director Brian Gladstein
Statement on Blagojevich Sentencing
Everyone in state and local government in Illinois should pay attention to the fall of Rod Blagojevich and learn from it. Those who consider government positions as the means to personal riches must remember that their personal freedom and family security are at stake.
Former Gov. George Ryan’s conviction should have been ample warning to Rod Blagojevich. Others in position of trust in Illinois now must take notice of the 14-year prison sentence ahead of Blagojevich.
After being impeached, removed from office, and convicted of 18 criminal counts relating to corruption in office, Rod Blagojevich is now headed to federal prison for a long stay. His arrest followed what prosecutors called a "crime spree" sparked by the passage of a ban on campaign contributions to statewide officials from state contractors, a measure championed by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) and endorsed by every statewide official but Blagojevich.
In addition to the Pay-to-Play ban, Illinois has made great strides to protect the political process from predators like Blagojevich: limiting the size of contributions to candidates, strengthen public access to records, toughening the procurement system.
But it is not enough to fix problems after officials abuse them. Just as Rod Blagojevich followed George Ryan into the governor's office and now into prison, so too must we prepare for the next politician who is too eager to take advantage of the trust put in them by the voters of Illinois.
We must move from a state that has been far too tolerant of corruption and patronage to a state that adheres to a higher standard for our government officials. With this in mind, ICPR supports public financing of political campaigns; stronger disclosure and transparency laws; and other systematic changes to root out corruption and foster good government in our state.