Illinois’ corruption cloud will clear, just not today

On Jan. 9, Rod Blagojevich became the only governor in Illinois to be impeached, and one of a very small group of others in the nation. He made history. And perhaps it was the endorphins and sweet feeling of victory that made us think the worst was behind us. The ‘honeymoon’ period if you could call it that of ousting Blagojevich has come to an end. He may no longer be our governor; which has, so far, been a step in the right direction; but Illinois will continue to feel the effects of Blagojevich’s reign for a long time.

That said, we should begin to realize that all of our troubles are not behind us, that Blagojevich did not tarnish Illinois’ record all on his own and that there is so much more where all that corruption came from there has to be. He was impeached for corruption and misconduct in office, and has recently been indicted for 16 felonies, including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion conspiracy, attempted extortion and making false statements to federal agents according to The New York Times. But he wasn’t the only one charged with crimes. Along with Blagojevich, five of his closest advisors were also charged: his brother, one of his top fund-raisers, two of his former chiefs of staff and a Springfield businessman. The formal charges have also managed to pull Blagojevich’s family even further into scandal. His wife, Patricia, was not charged, but has been referred to in the indictment.

More charges may come. We don’t know for sure. But this corruption is not a superficial problem. Having three corrupt governors consequentially says more about our government and more about the system than about the governors themselves. Maybe the system is inherently wrong and it needs to be fixed. If there is any silver lining to this corruption cloud, it would be that this offers us a chance to examine our government, and to demand transparency and accountability.

Although the indictments Blagojevich is facing are countless offenses against the people of Illinois, we do need to remember that indictments are not rulings. They are written charges against a party, in this case Blagojevich.

He may have been corrupt while he was in office, but we have yet to see if his corruption stems from a much farther place than the governor’s office. We don’t doubt that that may be the case. However, as student-journalists, as Illinois residents (mostly) and as American citizens, it’s not our job or within our rights to presume Blagojevich is guilty of all he’s been indicted for, regardless of circumstantial evidence or how we feel. That’s a jury’s decision. We can point fingers all we want, but true justice and victory will only come from a trial.