As convicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich was boarding his flight this morning to report at the Denver prison, I felt a moment of sorrow. This is not because of my empathy toward him being away from his wife Patti and his two daughters, though I did feel sorry for his children, but rather a gut-wrenching sadness over the state of our Illinois politicians.
It is truly a travesty that we now will have two former Illinois governors serving jail time for corruption. This will be the second governor convicted in five years! There is something wrong with our system if we can’t elect a Governor who is smart or sincere enough not to get sent to jail. What is happening in our election system these days that we can’t elect at least an honest person to lead our state?
I had just finally learned to spell Blagojevich’s name, then he gets convicted and is forced to resign from office. The one-time golden boy of Illinois politics’ who motivated his supporters with words of courage and change, is expected to report to a Colorado prison today to begin his 14-year prison term on corruption charges.
This former Governor is still drawing crowds and today was no exception. Many joined him at O-hare Airport to bid him farewell, as others boarded planes to join him in Denver to watch him walk to prison. In many minds, Blagojevich is innocent and still their leader.
I personally knew someone who worked on Blagojevich’s campaign who indicated to me that there was something going on she didn’t like and left his organization, after being integral in helping him get elected. I suspected there was misappropriation of funds when she told me this a few years before he got caught. I even gave Blago money for his first election! I feel like he robbed me.
Rod Blagojevich not only took my money, but he robbed me of my dreams! As did former Governor Ryan, who I also met and supported. These two men both came from humble beginnings. Ryan’s political career began in the early 70’s when he was a pharmacist from Kankakee and won a seat on the Kankakee Board before going on to serve in the Illinois General Assembly, including one term a House speaker and as the state’s lieutenant governor, before being elected to secretary of state in 1990.
As I watch the coverage of Blagojevich, I am reminded that Governors going to jail in Illinois are common practice. Until, our system of government in Illinois and its leaders are replaced, we will have more Governors going to prison. Some will be smarter not to get caught for their corruption. I look forward to real change in leadership in this state. In the meantime, it’s just another day in Illinois politics!