Seventh Circuit Overturns Five Counts From Blagojevich Conviction

Rod_Blagojevich_mug_shotI have been a critic of aspects of the case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, 58, was convicted of 18 counts of corruption and given a 14-year sentence. The most problematic charge in my view concerned Blagojevich’s wheeling and dealing for the appointment of a successor to fill the 2008 vacant U.S. Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama. Now a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has overturned five of the counts specifically dealing with that vacancy controversy.

The panel ruled that there was nothing illegal in Blagojevich seeking to secure a Cabinet position in President Barack Obama’s administration in exchange for appointing an Obama adviser to the president’s former U.S. Senate seat. The panel ruled:

But a problem in the way the instructions told the jury to consider the evidence requires us to vacate the convictions on counts that concern Blagojevich’s proposal to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an appointment to the Cabinet. A jury could have found that Blagojevich asked the President-­elect for a private-­sector job, or for funds that he could control, but the instructions permitted the jury to convict even if it found that his only request of Sen. Obama was for a position in the Cabinet. The instructions treated all proposals alike. We conclude, however, that they are legally different: a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.

. . .

A proposal to appoint a particular person to one office (say, the Cabinet) in exchange for someone else’s promise to appoint a different person to a different office (say, the Senate), is a common exercise in logrolling. We asked the prosecutor at oral argument if, before this case, logrolling had been the basis of a criminal conviction in the history of the United States. Counsel was unaware of any earlier conviction for an exchange of political favors. Our own research did not turn one up. It would be more than a little surprising to Members of Congress if the judiciary found in the Hobbs Act, or the mail fraud statute, a rule making everyday politics criminal.

. . .
Put to one side for a moment the fact that a position in the Cabinet carries a salary. Suppose that Blagojevich had asked, instead, that Sen. Obama commit himself to supporting a program to build new bridges and highways in Illinois as soon as he became President. Many politicians believe that public-­works projects promote their re-election. If the prosecutor is right that a public job counts as a private bene fit, then the benefit to a politician from improved chances of election to a paying job such as Governor—or a better pro spect of a lucrative career as a lobbyist after leaving office— also would be a private benefit, and we would be back to the proposition that all logrolling is criminal. Even a politician who asks another politician for favors only because he sincerely believes that these favors assist his constituents could be condemned as a felon, because grateful constituents make their gratitude known by votes or post-­office employment.

This still leaves the remaining convictions and it is not clear if the favorable ruling will result in a significant reduction or any reduction of time for Blagojevich. His sentence was vacated but there may not be a new trial on just these counts. The lower court could simply hold a re-sentencing hearing, which could result in effectively the same sentence or a reduction.

I remain uneasy with the line dividing logrolling and criminal conduct in the case generally. Blagojevich is clearly a crude and unethical person. His taped conversation of vulgar and grasping greed clearly impacted the jury as it did many of us. It is hard to get a jury to remain neutral when listening to a governor who sounds like John Gotti: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f—— golden. And I’m just not giving it up for f—— nothing.”

However, I fail to see the clear line with the type of favors and logrolling that is commonly practiced by politicians in both the state and federal systems. The panel brought home this concern by noting how President Dwight Eisenhower named Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court allegedly after Warren offered Eisenhower key political support during the 1952 campaign.

Yet, despite this analysis, the panel upheld convictions based on Blagojevich trying to sell the Senate seat for campaign cash. The panel said that the absence of a direct demand for money is neither unexpected or determinative. Indeed the panel added an unexpected reference: “Few politicians say, on or off the record, ‘I will exchange official act X for payment Y.’ Similarly persons who conspire to rob banks or distribute drugs do not propose or sign contracts in the statutory language. ‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, you know what I mean’ can amount to extortion … just as it can furnish the gist of a Monty Python sketch.”

For now, Blagojevich will continue to serve the longest sentence for corruption in the state pending any change by the lower court. His estimated date of release was 2024 when he would be 67.

Here is the opinion: Blagojevich decision

48 thoughts on “Seventh Circuit Overturns Five Counts From Blagojevich Conviction”

  1. Squeek, I never thought there would be another prez as corrupt as Nixon in my lifetime. Obama will go down as the most corrupt prez to date, beating Nixon out by a wide margin. There will be indictments when the Chicago gang is out of the White House. Maybe that’s why Obama is sucking up to the Castro criminals. Looking for sanctuary for the gang when 2017 rolls around.

  2. Oky doky Squeeky, whatever the hell you are talking about, wink wink? LOL.

  3. And no, I don’t “know where”. Where are you talking about Squeek? I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, do you have a link?

  4. @I.Annie

    I have lots of friends! Which one? BTW, you don’t have to use the “F.Annie” thing you know where. Penelope doesn’t block people. You can just be you.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. @Isaac

    You said, “No one can argue with most accusations but no one can argue that he inherited a sewer and it smells a lot better since he has been cleaning it up. ”

    Huh??? Are you crazy??? The idiot is nothing if not an enabler of corruption on all levels. During the S&L crisis under Reagan(?), over 1,000 executives and white collar thugs went to jail.

    How many did Obama and Holder nab? NONE! In fact, Holder went thru the revolving door back to work on the Banksters’ behalf.

    For goodness sake, please remove your head from that place where it appears to be crammed! You are liable to get a severe neck cramp.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. “It looks like he did have a mini stroke there. It wasn’t just his words, but his thought process seemed affected. Those are twice as likely in people who use marijuana regularly.”

    OMG! Squeeky I hope you relay this info to your friend, you know who.

  7. bam bam

    You hit the nail here. I tend to look at the residue. After eight years of the three stooges the residue was neck deep. Most of that for which Obama is attacked is a combination of what you so accurately described above and what politicians do regardless of party. Duplicity comes with the job along with all the other crimes. In the end Obama has done a reasonable job bringing the neck deep residue down a considerable level, perhaps to knee level. He has set the US on a course that needs further accomplishments but that would be set back if a Republican were to get elected President. No one can argue with most accusations but no one can argue that he inherited a sewer and it smells a lot better since he has been cleaning it up. The complaints seem to stem from him not being a miracle worker and being a politician. Compare and contrast.

  8. @bams

    It looks like he did have a mini stroke there. It wasn’t just his words, but his thought process seemed affected. Those are twice as likely in people who use marijuana regularly.

    In the New Zealand study, people aged 18 to 55 who had a stroke were 2.3 times more likely to test positive for marijuana in their urine than those who didn’t have a stroke.

    The study doesn’t prove that smoking pot will cause a stroke. “But it provides the strongest evidence to date that a lifestyle that includes cannabis use is closely associated with a doubling of stroke risk,” says study lead author P. Alan Barber, MD, PhD, a professor of clinical neurology at the University of Auckland.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. To be fair, we will never fully comprehend the tremendous amount of stress, anxiety and pressure that someone in that office must endure. It never lets up. It’s relentless. Politics aside, the constant scrutiny, coupled with sleep deprivation, must be horrendous. I feel for them–all of them–regardless of party. The job is a killer. Look at “before” and “after” photos of people who have served in that capacity. The individuals appear to have aged decades, not just a few years. Given the constant spotlight and terminal state of exhaustion, I’m only surprised that they don’t bungle their words more often.

    1. bam bam – the reason that Obama uses a monitor even when speaking to a classroom is because he is a babbling idiot when he is speaking without it.

  10. @NickS

    LOL! on the betting! In a major coup, Pansies brought on their new author, before they did!


    Yeah, but for every dumb thing Bush said, Obama has said or done an equally dumb thing. Remember when Obama went to see the Queen, and got the date wrong by a couple of years???

    Squeeky Frommn
    Girl Reporter

  11. isaac

    If you want to compare and contrast the academic records of Obama and Bush, at least be honest enough to admit that you, along with the rest of us, are clueless as to the grades received by Obama during his formal education. Say what you wish about Bush, but give him credit for being transparent enough to offer up his grades, however abysmal they may have been. Barry, on the other hand, Mr. Superior Intellect, is hell bent on hiding his scholastic marks. Care to guess as to why that may be? Even Crazy Uncle Joe Biden was frank enough to admit that he graduated from law school at the very bottom of his class. Don’t forget that he was also embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, which almost succeeded in booting him from the program. Bush was the Captain of the Cheerleaders, did you say? Well, I’d take that over a duplicitous, dishonest, subversive community organizer and his slow, cheating sidekick any day.

  12. Edward, FFS has imploded. The over/under was 2 years. The under bettors win.

  13. Isaac was sorta interesting when he first appeared here. But, as he has gotten more comfortable he has shown, through his vapid and boilerplate comments, that he is just an average @ best duopoly hack for Dems. He claims he hates the duopoly. That’s a lie. He hates Republicans and actually wants a monopoly. He’s a Hillary lemming. What else needs to be said? The true colors eventually come shining through.

  14. Riiight.

    Bush was brilliant.

    Who can ever forget this one:

    “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning”

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