Illinois politicians rushed to release prepared statements following former Governor Rod Blagojevich's sentencing to 14 years in prison on corruption charges.
Lieutenant Governor Shelia Simon:
"We cannot rely on a prison sentence to deter corruption. Illinois needs stronger ethics laws to kill pay-to-play politics. It's time we expose conflicts of interest before they cost taxpayers, and clear the way for true public servants to rebuild trust with the public. Increased transparency, coupled with the threat of serious prison time, can end these shameful courtroom battles. Together we can put this chapter behind us, restore integrity to government and live up to our legacy as the Land of Lincoln."
Illinois GOP Chairman Pat Brady:
"Today's sentence ends the Rod Blagojevich saga, but unfortunatley [sic] his enablers continue to burden the people of Illinois with financial mismanagement and higher taxes that have caused the downward spiral of the Illinois economy, and also widespread distrust of our public officials.
Moving forward, Republicans in Illinois provide the only hope for reform and a return to fiscal sanity."
Senator (R-IL) Mark Kirk:
"Judge Zagel's sentence is a clear warning to all elected officials that public corruption of any form will not be tolerated. Illinois families have long suffered from an estimated $500 million hidden corruption tax. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has done a great service to Illinois by bringing two criminal governors to justice."
State Representative (D-Woodstock) Jack D. Franks:
“Today, justice has been done. The deliberate acts of bribery, extortion and fraud that ultimately led to this day warrant a punishment tantamount to the serious nature of Blagojevich’s crimes. Let this day be a firm warning to those in public service – we will not rest until integrity and accountability serve as the rule, not the exception, in state government.”
“With this verdict we all must reaffirm our commitment to ridding Illinois of leaders that allow personal ambition to trump the public good. I remain devoted to eliminating pay-to-play politics and a culture of corruption that has permeated Illinois politics.”
Senate President (D-Chicago) John Cullerton:
“Today’s sentencing closes a tragic chapter in Illinois politics. I hope our state will never again face such an unfortunate and untenable situation. I feel sorry for the Blagojevich family during this difficult time.
"My role in this process began and ended with the impeachment and removal of Rod Blagojevich. While I take no joy in Blagojevich's sentence, I trust that the criminal justice system administered justice fairly.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan:
"Based on his convictions - for numerous crimes he was caught on tape committing during just one six-week period - Blagojevich deserves a lengthy prison sentence. Unfortunately, though, it cannot fix the damage he inflicted on our state over his six years as governor. Blagojevich became governor by promising ethical reform, but from the start, he relentlessly used his position to pursue illegal and morally bankrupt schemes motivated by power and greed. His conduct was disgraceful, and the cost to the state has been devastating. Blagojevich refused to govern responsibly and, instead, put Illinois up for sale. He tarnished the state’s reputation nationally and internationally, and he destroyed the public’s trust in government. May today’s sentence put an end to corruption in the Illinois’ governor’s office."
Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka
Speaking with WBEZ: "I think the sentence is fair. I think Judge Zagel did what he had to do within the confines of sentencing....I'm sad for [Blagojevich's] family, for the kids, but at the same time, anyone who breaks the law, their families are put at risk too. And he obviously didn't worry about it going into all this, so now it's a sadness.
"He's the type of person that believes their own publicity and thinks they're a celebrity and can get away with anything they want, and that they're smarter than the system and that the laws don't apply to them.
"I think there are some in Springfield that might be in the business of politics for the wrong reasons, in that they want to be celebrities in that they like the title and maybe don't want to do some work and just get some perks -- and hey! It's a service job. And if they can get that through their head, really service has it's own rewards, and you don't need the spotlight, you don't need a reality show.
"I'm hoping some of this is absorbed, that you cannot live above the law. And hey, I'm glad I ran against him, I would do it again in a heartbeat, even though I lost my office over it, because someone had to try and take him out. And at least I was able to slow him down, if nothing else, and I suppose that's worth something to me.
"He's kind of like one of these Shakespearean-type guys in the tragedies who are full of pride and arrogance and hubris and thinks that he can write their own ticket and step all over everybody and everything, and it all comes crashing down around them, and frankly around everybody. And we're going to be paying for this guy. We're going to be paying for him for at least a generation.
"Everybody has suffered by this guy, even the bad guys."