IL GOP asks Trump not to pardon former Gov. Blagojevich
When Donald Trump mentioned last week that he was thinking of pardoning disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, it stirred up a political hornet's nest among the state's Republican Party.
Blagojevich was convicted on 17 counts relating to the sale of the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama when he won the presidency and other "pay to play" schemes. Even for Illinois, Blago's corruption was epic. But it is current politics that makes any pardon of the former governor problematic.
The state's Republican House delegation sent a letter to the president asking him not to pardon Blagojevich because it would "set a detrimental precedent" and damage efforts to combat public corruption. But the Republicans' real agenda has more to do with the race between GOP governor Bruce Rauner and billionaire hedge fund manager J.B. Pritzker.
The state GOP has been trying to tie Pritzker to the corrupt administration of Blagojevich. It is using FBI wiretaps of conversations between Pritzker and Blago that reveal just how deep Pritzker's involvement with the convicted governor was.
The letter ... marks a notable difference between the state's GOP lawmakers and Trump and comes at a time when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party work to tie Blagojevich to Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker.
One TV ad shows Pritzker asking Blago to appoint him state treasurer:
Governor Rauner trails badly in the polls with very little hope of coming back, given his unpopularity in the state – especially with Republicans. He barely survived a primary challenge from an unknown state representative, Jeanne Ives, and conservatives in the state are livid with him for caving in to just about every Democratic demand on the budget.
Even tying Pritzker to Blago's sleaze probably won't help. The voters appear to prefer corruption to incompetence. In Illinois, that's not surprising.