- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2009

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of trying to auction off President Obama’s senate seat for to the highest bidder, was expelled from office on Thursday, despite a last-minute, impassioned plea from the embattled Democrat that ousting him would set a “dangerous and chilling precedent.”

After a four-day impeachment tribunal the governor skipped until the closing arguments, the Senate voted 59-0, with all 37 Democrats voting to remove Mr. Blagojevich for abuses of power. The senators also unanimously voted to ban the big-haired Blagojevich from ever holding state office again, with one voting “absolutely!” The chamber broke into applause as the proceedings ended.

The explusion was a foregone conclusion, and senators said afterward they really had no choice.

Mr. Blagojevich, who had had already boxed up his belongings at the governor’s executive mansion, was immediately removed from office and replaced by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, a fellow Democrat. The ouster was the first of a governor since 1988; no other Illinois governor had ever been impeached, let alone convicted in a Senate trial.

Mr. Blagojevich, 52, engaged in a lengthy pattern of pay-to-play politics, trading campaign donations for political favors and trying to swap his power to pick Mr. Obama’s replacement for a Cabinet post, ambassadorship or a high-paying job for himself and his wife, according to a 76-page FBI affidavit filed when he was arrested on federal corruption charges Dec. 9.

He skipped most of the impeachment tribunal, but finally fought for his political life on Tuesday, appearing for the first time to make a last-ditch defense to lawmakers. Charging that his Senate accusers had failed to prove that he broke the law, the governor said the case against him was politically motivated and had been flawed from the start.

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