Fake News & Unjust Sentencing. The Case to Pardon Blagojevich

*Governor Rod Blagojevich’s prison sentence is the most ridiculous example of hypocrisy in the history of justice and political corruption in the state of Illinois.

Setting aside the question of whether one views the former-Governor’s fundraising activities as crimes, and whether he received fair trials, are less important than examining the real corruption the media doesn’t report.

I take issue with the charges and the conduct of the Blagojevich prosecutors, but that is not the key point; the key point is what is playing out in Illinois politics today and how outrageous it is that the real corrupt Democrats have no accountability. Add the fact that killing someone goes less punished in Illinois than alleged fundraising activism.

I support President Trump pardoning Blagojevich’s prison sentence as not only a tool to amend the excessive prison sentence, but to push back on hyper aggressive federal prosecutions, and to allow Illinois citizens to consider the bigger picture.

Pardon Blagojevich
Illinois Governors Otto Kerner, George Ryan, Dan Walker, and Rod Blagojevich
Image Credit: Washington Post

Four of the last seven Illinois Governors have been convicted of various crimes and sentenced to prison. Various other elected officials have faced criminal charges, and while that is not uncommon in other states, Illinois has had it bad.

Governor Rod Blagojevich was handed an excessive sentence for alleged criminal conduct relating to his time while governor of Illinois. The problem is, Blagojevich was targeted by federal prosecutors because of his disruptive political style, and because he took on the Democratic establishment…not because the state was concerned about any corruption.

There are numerous ironies and noteworthy pieces of information in the Blagojevich story that the public was never exposed to; things that were unfairly removed from the greater context of his arrest. He accomplished meaningful things for people, and yet that story has never been told. Examining some of those noteworthy accomplishments would be useful against the backdrop of some of the biggest examples of corruption and hypocrisy in Illinois’ history.

Two examples are germane and useful here:

First, Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot and killed a black teen (Laquan McDonald), who was walking away from him. This high-profile case recently concluded with Officer Van Dyke being found guilty of murder, yet receiving a prison sentence that was half that of the Blagojevich sentence. And that was on a Murder 2 conviction, no less.


Let that sink in for a second.

The shooting was reminiscent of a wartime engagement in terms of aggression and intent to kill, yet Van Dyke was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

Second, the former Governor George Ryan ( who preceded Blagojevich), also received a much lesser sentence for alleged wrong-doing during his time as chief executive of Illinois government, and whose misconduct — surrounding a licensing scandal — actually led to people dying.

Rod Blagojevich killed no one. Rod Blagojevich’s behavior led to no deaths.

Rod Blagojevich killed no one. Rod Blagojevich’s behavior led to no deaths.”

Instead, Blagojevich  was targeted for his bravado and disruptive political style, this is evident in a myriad of ways. His sentence is not a reflection of justice but rather a power play by federal prosecutors, who needed a posterboy to be the face of a busted politician, emblematic of prosecutors’ crackdown on corruption in a system few people still trust.

Pardon Blagojevich
Protesters march in downtown Chicago in December 2015, calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting amid coverup allegations.
Image Credit: InThesetimes.com

Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew about the killing of Laquan McDonald by Chicago police, but covered it up so he could be re-elected. Proof that Illinois Democrats stick together.


Blagojevich, on the other hand, bucked their establishment and did his own thingthat was his crime: independent leadership.


Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called a press conference after Blagojevich’s arrest in December of 2009 during which he proclaimed in dramatic fashion: “The conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave,” alluding to excerpts of wiretapped phone conversations between the governor and associates, while mulling potential candidates to fill the vacant Senate seat of then-President-elect Barack Obama.

Where was US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald when Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan took over the entire state of Illinois, and under the law could serve as House Speaker, control the Illinois Democratic money machine, and represent real estate interests in Chicago, while his daughter served as Attorney General? Where was Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference when Mayor Emanuel covered up the killing of a black teen, solely to secure re-election?

The point is Blagojevich was the subject of obsessed prosecutors who wanted to keep him in his lane, so actual corrupt Democrats could get back to business as usual.

Blagojevich was essentially sentenced to 14 years in prison for being crass on the phone. Meanwhile, similar corruption conviction sentences, such as those of former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and as I recalled, former Republican Governor George Ryan, have been half or one-third of Blagojevich’s punishment.

During his career in politics, Blagojevich negotiated the release of U.S. soldiers that were held hostage in Kosovo, during his time in Congress. He expanded healthcare for children while the Governor of Illinois and oversaw a fund that provided relief to Illinois  guard and reserve soldiers that were deployed overseas to Iraq, and fought the Democrat establishment in Illinois.

Blagojevich’s full story was never told, hours of tapes from his trial were denied from being admitted in his defense, and now he sits in prison for a longer term than individuals who have literally killed people. The justice system is corrupt. Blagojevich’s sentence was unjust and it is unreliable that killing people goes punished more lightly than alleged crimes of political brashness.

Ironically, the overly hyped charge against Blagojevich that he allegedly tried to sell President Obama’s vacant senate seat was dropped.

Pardon Blagojevich

President Trump should pardon the Blagojevich sentence, and we the public, should push hard to expose the real corruption and the fake news staff writers in Illinois that would not accurately or fairly cover his case.

But hey – why let the facts get in the way of a good corruption story?


Christopher Neiweem is an Iraq War Veteran and Founder of Neiweem Group. He regularly provides commentary on Fox News Channel, CNN, and a host of national and international media platforms, and writes for several national publications as an opinion contributor. He has testified in front of both the House and Senate before numerous committees. Mr Neiweem has more than 15 years experience working in state and national politics.



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