Blagojevich asks high court to hear corruption case appeal

FILE - In this March 14, 2012 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago as his wife, Patti, wipes away tears a day before he was to report to a prison in Littleton, Colo. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago posted a notice indicating there would be no rehearing for the imprisoned Democrat on his corruption convictions. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)
FILE - In this March 14, 2012 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich speaks to the media outside his home in Chicago as his wife, Patti, wipes away tears a day before he was to report to a prison in Littleton, Colo. On Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago posted a notice indicating there would be no rehearing for the imprisoned Democrat on his corruption convictions. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

CHICAGO (AP) – Imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to hear an appeal of his corruption convictions that included his attempt to sell an appointment to President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

An 83-page filing making the request argues that the line between the legal and illegal trading of political favors has become hopelessly blurred, potentially exposing politicians everywhere to prosecution.

“This case presents an ideal vehicle for providing the needed clarity,” it says.

The Supreme Court hears only around 80 cases a year out of more than 10,000 such requests. It typically accepts cases that raise weighty and divisive legal issues, which is why the filing emphasizes what it says are the far-reaching implications of Blagojevich’s case.

The 58-year-old Blagojevich is serving a 14-year prison sentence in Colorado. A lower court tossed five of his 18 convictions in July, and he’s now asking the Supreme Court to toss the rest.

An appeal to the high court is a last slim hope for Blagojevich, who proclaimed his innocence for years on talk shows, including NBC’s “The Apprentice” when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump still presided over the reality show.

Tuesday’s filing says that the high court should state clearly that politicians cross the line into criminality when they enter into an explicit, unambiguous agreement with a donor to take specific official action in exchange for campaign cash.

The lack of such clarify in U.S. law, the filing says, could invite “arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement against politicians like Blagojevich who are outspoken, controversial, polarizing or simply have become unpopular since their election.”

Since his 2008 arrest and through his two trials, Blagojevich has argued he was participating in legal, run-of-the-mill politicking.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also grappled with the issue of what is and isn’t corruption when it struck five of Blagojevich’s convictions in its July ruling. The three-judge panel determined that Blagojevich crossed that line when he sought money – often campaign cash – for naming someone to the U.S. Senate seat that Obama vacated when he became president. But the judges said he didn’t cross it by asking for a Cabinet seat for himself.

The panel concluded that secretly trading favors based on politicians’ executive powers was a legitimate way to get things done for constituents.

Using that reasoning, the judges tossed convictions linked to Blagojevich’s bid for the Cabinet post in exchange for appointing an Obama adviser to the Senate. But they said evidence on the 13 remaining criminal counts was “overwhelming.”

In a modest win for Blagojevich, the panel ordered that he be brought back to Chicago to be resentenced. But it also said his original 14-year sentence might be considered fair even after subtracting the five overturned counts. A resentencing hearing has not yet been set; the 7th Circuit said resentencing should go ahead even if the high court agrees to hear Blagojevich’s appeal.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

WKBN 27 First News provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. No links will be permitted. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s