Rod Blagojevich pleads not guilty to eight more corruption charges
Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is in hot water once again as he faces a new set of corruption charges that stem from his attempt to sell the US Senate seat once held by Barack Obama.
According to Fox News Blagojevich entered the plea of not guilty on the morning of Wednesday Feb. 2, 2010 in a Chicago courtroom. The new indictment against the former governor adds eight new counts to Blagojevich long list of corruption charges including racketeering, attempted extortion, bribery, bribery conspiracy and extortion conspiracy.
The new indictment will drive the trial of Blagojevich that's scheduled to start before a federal judge in three-plus months. But it's only a distraction in the other Blagojevich trial, the one playing out right now in the court of public opinion.
To review the bidding: Federal prosecutors previously charged the defrocked governor with 16 criminal counts, 11 of them dependent on a disputed fraud statute known as the "honest services" law. The essence of that concept, as applied here, is that citizens are entitled to the honest services of public officials they employ. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its consideration of three unrelated cases, now is weighing whether to gut or retain the honest services law. We hope the Supremes don't strip prosecutors of this valuable tool for combating public corruption. But if that happens, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald can prosecute Blagojevich for the same alleged crimes as laid out in the last indictment, but this time under different federal statutes. Grand jurors have obliged by offering up this new, or superseding, indictment.