SPRINGFIELD – There was little support Tuesday at the former stomping grounds of ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for President Donald Trump’s decision to commute the remaining years of the disgraced former Democratic governor’s 14-year corruption sentence.
Republicans and Democrats from various levels of state and federal government issued public statements condemning the president’s decision, which was initially reported by ABC News Tuesday morning. Several others received commutations from the president Tuesday as well, according to the Associated Press.
“Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich,” Trump told reporters Tuesday before boarding Air Force One. “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.”
Blagojevich, who was a contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” television program in 2010, began serving a 14-year federal prison sentence in 2012.
He was convicted on 11 criminal counts related to his effort to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, of Western Springs, called Trump’s decision “disappointing” and said he was “never going to be able to figure out how the president messages, nor the decision making that he does.”
“Currently we have a massive federal investigation into corruption in the state of Illinois, and this action distracts and also dilutes what I think is the proper role of the Department of Justice to root out corruption,” he said.
In a statement, Gov. JB Pritzker, who has argued on several occasions that Blagojevich should serve his full sentence, echoed that sentiment.
“Illinoisans have endured far too much corruption, and we must send a message to politicians that corrupt practices will no longer be tolerated,” he said in the statement. “President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I deeply believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time. I’m committed to continuing to take clear and decisive steps this spring to prevent politicians from using their offices for personal gain, and I will continue to approach this work with that firm conviction.”
• See the complete story in the Feb. 21 print edition of the Clinton Journal or on the Clinton Journal E-Edition.