Obama calls for Blagojevich to step down
Updates: Every Senate Dem calls for Gov's resignation; Deputy governor quits
President-elect Barack Obama is calling for his home-state governor to step down, his spokesman said.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday in a wide-ranging public corruption probe in which he was accused of trying to sell an appointment to fill Obama's vacated Senate seat.
"The President-elect agrees with Lt. Governor Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the Governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois," Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday. "The President-elect believes that the general assembly should consider the issue and put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the the people of Illinois."
Blagojevich has so far refused to step down after his arrest Tuesday in a wide-ranging public corruption investigation.
The governor and his chief of staff were charged with conspiring to solicit bribes in exchange for the an appointment to the Senate seat Obama has vacated. The charges give no indication Obama was involved in the scheme, and Blagojevich at times complained of his inability to get the transition team to play ball.
The Associated Press first reported Gibbs' statement, which was confirmed by RAW STORY.Reid calls for governor to resign; Deputy governor quits"Senator Harry Reid is drawing a fairly bold line in the political sand in regards to the ethical missteps surrounding Rod Blagojevich," Sam Stein reports for Huffington Post.
Stein continues: "On Wednesday, the Majority Leader and Sen. Dick Durbin drafted a letter -- which they subsequently urged their Democratic colleagues to sign -- that calls on the Illinois Governor to not just remove himself from office but to 'under no circumstance' make a last-minute appointment to fill Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat. Should Blagojevich disregard these warnings, Reid and Durbin write, the Senate would "be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated."
Also, The Associated Press reports that one of Blagojevic's top aides has resigned.
"Spokeswoman Kelley Quinn on Wednesday said Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee resigned," the AP reports. "The reason for his resignation wasn't immediately clear."
The AP adds, "Greenlee was promoted to be a top aide to Blagojevich in June, replacing former Deputy Governor Sheila Nix. Greenlee had been a top administration aide previously. State records indicate the 33-year-old Greenlee lives in Chicago and earned $149,000 a year."Update: 50 Dem senators urge resignationIn a letter sent Wednesday night to Blagojevich, all 50 current members of the Senate Democratic caucus urged the embattled governor to resign. Under no circumstances, the senators wrote, should Blagojevich appoint Obama's replacement
Dear Governor Blagojevich:
We write to insist that you step down as Governor of Illinois and under no circumstance make an appointment to fill the vacant Illinois Senate seat. In light of your arrest yesterday on alleged federal corruption charges related to that Senate seat, any appointment by you would raise serious questions.
It is within the authority of the Illinois legislature to remove your power to make this appointment by providing for a special election. But a decision by you to resign or to step aside under Article V of the Illinois Constitution would be the most expeditious way for a new Senator to be chosen and seated in a manner that would earn the confidence of the people of Illinois and all Americans. We consider it imperative that a new senator be seated as soon as possible so that Illinois is fully represented in the Senate as the important work of the 111th Congress moves forward.
Please understand that should you decide to ignore the request of the Senate Democratic Caucus and make an appointment we would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article I, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated.
We do not prejudge the outcome of the criminal charges against you or question your constitutional right to contest those charges. But for the good of the Senate and our nation, we implore you to refrain from making an appointment to the Senate.