Our look back at highlights and key turning points in the political career of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues with the years 2006 through 2008. Part 1 can be found here, part 2 is here.
February 12, 2006, Preschool for All Early in his re-election year, Blagojevich announces an ambitious new early childhood education initiative. Dubbed Preschool for All, the goal is to make Illinois the first state in the nation with universal preschool access.
April 17, 2006: George Ryan convicted A jury convicts former Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges related to a widespread scheme to trade drivers licenses for campaign contributions. “Today’s verdict proves that no one is above the law,” says Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “And just as important, it proves that government is supposed to exist for the good of the people, not the other way around, and certainly not for the personal enrichment of those who hold public office.”
October 12, 2006: Rezko indicted Feds indict Blagojevich friend and fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, alleging he routinely steered state contracts to vendors in exchange for millions of dollars in payments. Rezko later becomes the focus of national news and through his controversial connections to presidential candidate Barack Obama. A jury convicted Rezko in 2008. He cooperated with the continuing federal investigation, though did not testify in the Blagojevich trial. In November 2011 a judge sentenced Rezko to serve 10-and-a-half years in federal prison.
November 7, 2006: Blagojevich wins re-election Blagojevich cruises to re-election over Republican Judy Baar Topinka and Green Party nominee Rich Whitney, but wins only 49% of the vote and garners fewer overall votes than in 2002
December 9, 2008: Blagojevich arrested FBI agents arrested Blagojevich at his home following an early morning run. The governor was said to have replied, “is this a joke?” He turned 52 the next day.
December 30, 2008: Appoints Burris to U.S. Senate Seat Following his arrest and allegations that he attempted to leverage his power to appoint a successor to President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat for personal gain, Blagojevich taps Democrat Roland Burris for the job.
Click here for Part 4: 2009-2010