Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich defends himself in Spanish


Rod Blagojevich

As he turned to the cameras, something he likes to do, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Spanish-lanuage reporters, "No culpable."

That means not guilty.

But he was found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI and could face a $250,000 fine and up to five years in jail.

Only one juror stood in the way of him being convicted of trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, and I think he should face a retrial.

But I'd like to weigh in on what Blagojevich's conviction means to many in the Latino community where he had significant support and a decent track record.

In 2005, he signed a bill, SB 2043, to help state agencies hire more Hispanics at the supervisory, technical, professional and managerial levels.

"Hispanics are the fastest growing group in Illinois. As we recognize their contributions to the state's economy and diversity, we need to make sure they have increased access to jobs in state government," Blagojevich said in a press release at the time.

At that time he also had appointed more than 60 Latinos to high-level positions in his cabinet, state agencies, state boards and commissions.

He also supported additional funding for bilingual education and in July 2007 announced almost $200,000 in state grants for rural and small school districts to provide ESL instruction for migrant children.

These are just a few examples of what he did for the state's Latinos.

Blagojevich, the son of Serbian immigrants, also speaks Spanish.

He often addressed the Latino media in Spanish. In this video below from a January 2009 Univision Chicago interview he used the phrase coined by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers and later adopted by President Obama, "Si se puede," or "Yes we can."

"Como hijo de inmigrante y padre de familia entiendo la importancia de tener mejor oportunidades. (As the son of an immigrant and father of a family I understand the importance of having better opportunities.) And I'm going to keep fighting for that and those that say we can't do that I say, 'Si se puede. "

Yes we can? No se pudo. No he couldn't.

One conviction is better than none.

But it was interesting to hear some of my Latino friends defend him online. I won't name names but some Latinos think he shouldn't face a retrial.

Blagojevich had built up good will in the Hispanic community. He's not like other governors from Arizona's Jan Brewer to former California Gov. Pete Wilson who've exploited the immigration issue to divide people with laws like SB1070 and Proposition 187.

Blagojevich said to the Latino community in  2009 interview and again yesterday, "gracias por su apoyo," or "thanks for your support."

But his actions hurt Latinos and all the people of Illinois. And justice should be served.

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