|40th Governor of Illinois|
January 13, 2003 – January 29, 2009
|Preceded by||George Ryan|
|Succeeded by||Pat Quinn|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Illinois's 5th district
January 3, 1997 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Michael Patrick Flanagan|
|Succeeded by||Rahm Emanuel|
December 10, 1956
|Spouse(s)||Patricia Mell Blagojevich|
|Residence||Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood, Jefferson County, Colorado|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University (B.A.)|
Pepperdine University (J.D.)
Rod R. Blagojevich (born December 10, 1956) was 40th Governor of Illinois beginning January 13, 2003 and ending January 29, 2009. He succeeded George Ryan, who would also be arrested for non-related charges. Blagojevich was the first Governor of Illinois to be impeached while in office and the first Democratic politician in over 25 years to face such charges. In February 2020, President Donald Trump ended Blagojevich's prison sentence four years earlier.
Early life[change | change source]
Blagojevich was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second of four children. His father, Radislav, was an immigrant steel plant laborer from a village near Kragujevac, Serbia. Blagojevich graduated from Chicago's Foreman High School after transferring from Lane Technical High School. He began boxing at a young age.
Governor of Illinois[change | change source]
During 2002, Blagojevich campaigned for his party's nomination to become governor. Blagojevich won a close primary campaign against former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris and Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas, who ran well in the suburban collar counties of Chicago. Blagojevich finished strongly in Southern Illinois, winning 55% of the primary vote downstate, enough to win a primary victory by a thin margin.
In the general election, Blagojevich defeated Topinka and the Green Party's Rich Whitney, outspending Topinka $27 million to $6 million. He attempted to tie Topinka to former Republican governor George Ryan's corruption. Blagojevich won re-election.
Arrest and conviction[change | change source]
He was arrested in December of 2008 on federal corruption charges, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Blagojevich was later impeached during January 2009, convicted and removed from office on January 29, 2009. On December 7, 2011, Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. He is held at Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood in Jefferson County, Colorado.
On May 31, 2018, President Donald Trump, soon after having pardoned commentator Dinesh D'Souza, told reporters that he was considering reducing Blagojevich's sentence (without pardoning him). Trump called Blagojevich's 14-year sentence "unfair", saying that Blagojevich's statements about enriching himself were "stupid", but also the sort of thing "that many other politicians say".
Personal life[change | change source]
Blagojevich has been married to Patricia Mell Blagojevich. They have two children. His family owns a home in Ravenswood, Chicago, but live in Jefferson County, Colorado because of Blagojevich's prison stay.
References[change | change source]
- "Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office". Chicago Tribune.com. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
- Copley News Service. Three Democrats battle for party's nomination for governor. March 9, 2002.
- "2002 Gubernatorial Democratic Primary Election Results – Illinois". Uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 2010-06-04.
- Monica Davey (December 14, 2008). "Two Sides of a Troubled Governor, Sinking Deeper". The New York Times.
- Christopher Wills (December 14, 2008). "Ill. governor: Eager for battle, rarely victorious". Associated Press.
- Riopell, Mike (December 10, 2008). "History repeats itself: Blagojevich not the first Gov. to be charged while in office". Bloomington Pantagraph. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
- Source: Feds take Gov. Blagojevich into custody Chicago Breaking News. Retrieved December 9, 2009.
- United States Department of Justice (December 9, 2008). "Illinois gov. rod r. blagojevich and his chief of staff john harris arrested on federal corruption charges". Press release. http://chicago.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel08/dec09_08.htm. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
- Diamond, Jeremy (May 31, 2018). "Trump floats Martha Stewart pardon, Rod Blagojevich commutation". CNN.com.
- Sweet, Lynn; Seidel, Jon; Sneed, Michael (February 18, 2020). "Trump commutes prison sentence of disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich". Chicago Sun-Times.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel gave Blagojevich 14 years, putting him on track for release in March 2024.