[The following is a guest post written by Ishmael]
Despite what seasoned attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called staggering allegations of corruption, it looks like Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich might get to appoint a successor to Barack Obama’s Senate seat after all. Despite the fact that he’s indicted, he’s still in power until he resigns (an unlikely move from a man some have deemed “insane” and a “sociopath” or is removed from office. Trouble is, the Illinois Constitution might make that a little difficult:
Illinois Constitution Article IV, Sec. 5.…(b) The Governor may convene the General Assembly or the Senate alone in special session by a proclamation stating the purpose of the session; and only business encompassed by such purpose, together with any impeachments or confirmation of appointments shall be transacted. Special sessions of the General Assembly may also be convened by joint proclamation of the presiding officers of both houses, issued as provided by law.
Illinois Compiled Statues 25 ILCS 15.– 1. A special session of the General Assembly may be convened at anytime by a joint proclamation issued by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, stating the purpose of the session and the date and time for the session, and filed with the Secretary of State and by notice to the members as provided in Section 2. Only business encompassed by the purpose stated in the joint proclamation, together with any impeachments or confirmation of appointments, may be transacted at the special session. Sec. 2. Upon the filing of a joint proclamation for a special session under Section 1, the Secretary of State shall, at least 4 days before the date set for the convening of that special session, send written notice by certified mail to each member of the General Assembly of the joint proclamation and the purpose, date, and time set for the convening of the special session. If the Speaker and President declare in the joint proclamation that a demonstrable emergency exists which requires immediate action by the General Assembly, the requirements of this section shall be suspended and the Secretary of State shall take whatever reasonable steps necessary to notify the members of the General Assembly of the date and time of the emergency special session.; Sec. 3. Nothing in this Act affects the power of the Governor under Article IV, Section 5 of the Constitution of Illinois (1970) to call a special session.The Governor, when calling a special session, shall file the proclamation calling the session with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall take whatever reasonable steps necessary to notify the members of the General Assembly of the date and time of the special session.
In plain English, that means a special session is hard to convene, and it takes time. And since the General Assembly isn’t meeting in regular session until January 12, and the Senate seat appointment is due on January 3, and Blagojevich has said he wanted to announce Obama’s replacement by Christmas, it looks like he and his 70’s hair may still get to appoint whoever they want.
Corruption in Illinois politics is, of course, nothing new. Three Illinois governors have served jail time, including Blago’s predecessor, George Ryan. But as Archpundit has written — for over a year, (note: the site is getting slammed right now, so the link may not work), Blagojevich’s incompetence has crossed the line into impeachable territory. The reason the legislature never moved on it was that outgoing Senate president Emil Jones kept shooting the idea down. Incidentally, Jones is interested in that available U.S. Senate Seat.
Here’s the dirty secret of Illinois politics (okay, one of the dirty secrets): no one can stand each other. At all. Jones and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan have fought. Blagojevich and Madigan have fought. Madigan’s daughter, state Attorney General Lisa Madigan was probably going to start a primary fight with Blago in 2010 (along with Treasurer and Obama protégé Alexi Giannoulias, Comptroller Dan Hynes, Lieutenant Governor Patrick Quinn, Obama transition team member Bill Daley, ousted and imprisoned former Governor George Ryan, the reanimated corpse of Abe Lincoln, and Alan Keyes). Yes, not even his Lieutenant Governor likes him – in fact, Quinn said today that perhaps Blago should step aside. He won’t, however, because as previously mentioned he’s a madman.
That’s where new Senate president John Cullerton comes in. He’s more willing to look at Blagojevich’s impeachment than Jones ever was, and he worked with Madigan when he was in the Illinois House. He and Madigan need to get together to announce a special session sooner rather than later, or Blagojevich is going to leave a Senate-sized smear on Illinois Democrats for months – maybe years – to come.
UPDATE: Emil Jones may be following Dick Durbin’s lead and reconvening the Senate to organize a special election for the open Senate seat. John Cullerton agrees. However, Blagojevich could still veto the winner of that special election, and as previously mentioned, the man is enough of a megalomaniac that he just might. This isn’t over yet.