Blagojevich Will 'Fight' to 'Last Breath'; Refuses to Step Down over Bribery Charges
Byline: Jennifer Haberkorn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich said Friday that he's prepared to fight accusations that he tried to sell a Senate seat, bribe the Chicago Tribune and withhold state funding in exchange for campaign contributions.
In his first official response since being arrested 10 days ago, the defiant governor said he will not resign - a move nearly every other politician in Illinois and President-elect Barack Obama has called on him to do.
I will fight, I will fight, I will fight until I take my last breath, Mr. Blagojevich, a Democrat, said in a brief news conference in Chicago. I have done nothing wrong.
Mr. Blagojevich has gone to work each day since the arrest, signing bills and, late Friday, even granting pardons to 22 people.
His predecessor made a similar move. Former Gov. George Ryan famously cleared the state's death row just before he left office in 2003 amid accusations of corruption.
Mr. Blagojevich's attorney, Ed Genson, has said the governor will not fill Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said a Blagojevich appointee would be unacceptable.
Mr. Genson is a high-powered Chicago attorney known for his tough trial presence and willingness to do almost anything for a win.
Mr. Blagojevich's refusal to step down promises that the scandal, which Republicans are trying to tie to Mr. Obama, will remain in the news for a while. Chicago newspapers have reported that Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is on tapes talking about the seat, but not offering anything illegal.
It also leaves the future of the U.S. Senate seat - a traditionally reliable vote for Democrats - in limbo.
The Illinois Supreme Court has denied a request by Attorney General Lisa Madigan - a longtime Blagojevich foe - to remove the governor from power.
Some members of the state legislature have said they plan to introduce a bill that would allow for a special election. The legislative body also has formed a committee to start on the impeachment process, but both moves will likely take months.
Mr. Blagojevich was arrested after federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint in U. …