CHICAGO (CBS) — President Trump’s announcement regarding Blagojevich’s commutation is rippling through Springfield, where the legislature is in session.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole is gathering reaction from state lawmakers.
The commutation of the disgraced former Democratic governor by the sitting Republican President has been rumored, and discussed and brewing for well over a year.
“The news of the president’s decision to commute the sentence of former Governor Blagojevich is something I strongly disagree with,” said Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-82nd.)
So GOP bigwigs like House Republican leader Durkin have had time to work on their reaction to a decision that crosses party lines in an unusual way.
“The damage the former governor did to the state of Illinois is reprehensible and he needs to be held accountable for his actions,” said Illinois State Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville)
Responses were quite similar in tone, from Chairman Tim Schneider at the Illinois Republican party who said:
“It’s important those found guilty serve their prison sentences.”
Illinois’ five congressional Republicans through Representative Darrin LaHood’s office said “we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook.”
But Republican Donald Trump, somehow letting a convicted former Democratic governor off the hook, puts Illinois’ Republicans in the difficult position of interpreting Mr. Trump’s action.
“I have no idea,” Durkin said. “I don’t know what his end game is. I don’t understand his motivation, but I think it’s wrong.”
“It’s frustrating in a sense because what Governor Blagojevich did was bad for our state,” said Wehrli. “And we are trying to make our state a better state and the president coming in and commuting the sentence is not the right message.”
Blagojevich was not necessarily popular within his own party and Democrats are criticizing Trump’s actions. Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin also commented on Blagojevich’s release from federal custody:
“With corruption by elected officials still in the headlines, Illinois and Washington should quickly move to establish stricter ethics requirements.”