Lawmakers look forward to ‘healing process’ after Blagojevich impeachment
by Martha Quetsch
Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen (25th District) said on Monday that the state can resume the necessary business that was held up by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s uncertain situation following his arrest and impeachment trial.
“The state has been in paralysis. Bills were not being paid. Schools, including those in the Kaneland and Aurora districts, have been expecting state funds since October,” Lauzen said. “But they have not received them, because we had a governor who was distracted.”
Lauzen is looking forward to new state leadership under Gov. Pat Quinn, who was named to the state’s highest office after the impeachment conviction of Blagojevich on Jan. 29.
Lauzen said other business the state has not been able to attend to without a functioning governor includes the state’s distribution of federal funds to nursing homes.
“Education, social services and medicine all have been hamstrung,” Lauzen said.
Lauzen wanted Blagojevich’s impeachment conviction because of the former governor’s “consistent disregard for the constitution and the oath of office,” he said.
Lauzen cited the example of when Blagojevich pressed on with the I-SaveRx program, which would have allowed pharmaceutical companies and governmental agencies to purchase prescription drugs for people at a lower cost from out of the country.
“Federal law clearly prohibited it, yet he went forward with it,” Lauzen said.
The I-SaveRx foreign prescription program, serving residents of Illinois and four other states, ceased functioning recently after its Canadian supplier withdrew from its agreement because of the lack of adequate promotion of the program by participating states.
The illegal creation of I-SaveRx was one of the impeachment charges against Blagojevich; federal law prohibits foreign drug imports, Lauzen said.
The conviction by the Senate means that in the future, Blagojevich will be disqualified from holding any public office in Illinois, which Lauzen said was absolutely neccesary, under the circumstances.
“An impeachment conviction of the supreme executive power of the state has never occurred in Illinois. It is the most serious indictment and conviction that could happen politically,” Lauzen said. “There must be a long-term consequence.”
Lauzen said the night before the impeachment vote, he and his staff made approximately 34,000 phone calls to 25th District residents, hearing their opinions in conference calls with people numbering 3,600. Of those he called, four out of five were in favor of impeaching Blagojevich.
Lauzen said the most dramatic moment of the impeachment trial was when the tapes were played.
“To hear the governor shaking down a contractor, going through managing illegal funding, the atmosphere in the Senate chamber was hush, shock; it was profoundly sad,” Lauzen said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (14th District) on Jan. 29 released a statement in response to the Illinois Senate’s vote to remove Blagojevich from office:
“After a dark period of time, it is a new day in Illinois. With Rod Blagojevich’s removal, the citizens of Illinois can start the healing process, and the government can return to tackling the serious problems that face our state,” Foster said.