Illinois Republican Delegation Rips Trump for Commuting Rod Blagojevich's Prison Sentence

All the Republican House representatives from Illinois condemned President Donald Trump's decision Tuesday to commute the sentence of former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich, calling him the "face of public corruption" in the state.

The five-member delegation—Reps. John Shimkus, Darin LaHood, Mike Bost, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger—shared a statement today saying that the commutation of Blagojevich's prison sentence had "disappointed" them.

"We are disappointed by the President's commutation of Rod Blagojevich's federal sentence. We believe he received an appropriate and fair sentence, which was the low-end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions. Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters," the representatives wrote. "As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn't let those who breached the public trust off the hook."

"History will not judge Rod Blagojevich well," they added.

The delegation released a similar statement in August of 2019, arguing that commuting Blagojevich's sentence would "set a dangerous precedent." That letter pointed out that four of the last eight governors of Illinois had been sentenced to federal prison for public corruption. They had previously asked Trump to not commute Blagojevich's sentence in June 2018.

rod blagojevich
Rod Blagojevich, shown here in 2012 shortly before reporting to federal prison, has had his 14-year prison sentence commuted Tuesday by President Donald Trump. Blagojevich served 8 years of his sentence. Frank Polich/Getty

Blagojevich was governor during the 2008 presidential election won by former President Barack Obama. Prior to being president, Obama was a senator for Illinois. Blagojevich was caught on tape attempting to sell Obama's Senate seat.

"I've got this thing, and it's f**king golden. I'm just not giving it up for f**king nothing," Blagojevich said on the recording.

Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison on multiple corruption charges. Trump, however, has called the recording of Blagojevich trying to sell the Senate seat as "braggadocio," and has floated the idea of commuting Blagojevich's sentence multiple times, calling the sentence "very severe." As of Tuesday, Blagojevich will leave prison having served eight years of his sentence.

Trump made a number of pardons and sentence commutations on Thursday. In addition to Blagojevich, Trump has pardoned investment banker Michael Milken, convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy and Eddie DeBartolo Jr., the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, convicted of failing to report a felony in the bribery case that sent former Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards to prison.

Blagojevich also appeared on Trump's television show Celebrity Apprentice in 2010, before his prison sentence. Tuesday, Trump told reporters that he didn't know Blagojevich, but "he seems like a very nice person."