The vote wasn't close, nor was it expected to be: 114-1. One hundred fourteen members of the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) for an assortment of alleged crimes, the first chief executive in the state's 190-year history to suffer that fate.
Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney describes the mood:
For more than 90 minutes, House members solemnly laid out a list of transgressions against Blagojevich that warranted his impeachment — from his alleged offer to sell the state's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, to his alleged extortion of a children's hospital for a campaign contribution from its CEO, to his $2.6 million expenditure for imported flu vaccines that never reached Illinois and had to be thrown out.
"We wanted him. We elected him. We supported him. And he's disgraced us," said state Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) said.
"Today, we are taking the first step in taking back our government from the darkness and bringing it back to the light. The plague — it is a plague that has been brought on our state by Rod Blagojevich — will be lifted. This is a new day, a better day," said state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock).
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), chairwoman of the House panel that recommended impeachment, said the evidence to drive Blagojevich from office was overwhelming.
"The evidence we gathered makes it clear this governor tramples on the legislative prerogative. He breaks state and federal laws. In his own words, he expresses a willingness to barter state official acts and state taxpayer money for personal and political gain. This governor has violated his oath of office. This governor has breached the public trust. This governor must be impeached," she said.
The only House member to vote against the resolution was state Rep. Milton Patterson (D) of Chicago, who said there "wasn't enough" evidence against the governor to warrant such an action. Elga Jefferies, another Chicago Democrat, voted present.
The case now goes to the state Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required to remove Blagojevich from office.
The last governor impeached was Arizona's Evan Mecham (R), who was removed from office in 1988. Before that, it was Huey Long (D) of Louisiana, in 1929. But he was acquitted in the Senate.