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Page last updated at 08:20 GMT, Thursday, 18 December 2008

Illinois chief survives court bid

Rod Blagojevich on 10/12/08
Rod Blagojevich says he believes he has done nothing wrong

The Supreme Court of Illinois has rejected an attempt by the state attorney general to temporarily remove Governor Rod Blagojevich from office.

The state's top court did not give a reason for its refusal of Attorney General Lisa Madigan's request.

Ms Madigan had argued Mr Blagojevich was unfit to serve, due to his arrest for allegedly trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Mr Blagojevich denies the claims, but is under intense pressure to resign.

A panel of state lawmakers are currently considering whether to recommend his impeachment.

Meanwhile, Mr Blagojevich's lawyer has said the governor does not intend to appoint anyone to Mr Obama's vacant Illinois Senate seat as Senate Democrats say they will reject anyone he chooses.

As governor, Mr Blagojevich has the sole authority to pick Mr Obama's temporary successor as senator until an election is held.

'Unsustainable situation'

Lisa Madigan had gone to the Supreme Court with what she called an "extraordinary request" to remove Mr Blagojevich from office, arguing that he "can no longer fulfil his official duties with any legitimacy".

The court denied the request without comment.

CHARGES AGAINST BLAGOJEVICH
Federal agents say Mr Blagojevich
Tried to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions;
Tried to use state funds for the private purpose of inducing the Tribune Company to fire Chicago Tribune editorial board members critical of him;
Tried to obtain personal financial benefits for himself in return for his appointment of a US senator

Following the ruling, Ms Madigan said: "Because of Governor Blagojevich's refusal to resign, the state of Illinois is in an unsustainable situation."

Mr Blagojevich's lawyer, Edward Genson, has appeared before a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers who will decide whether the governor should be impeached.

Mr Genson argued that transcripts of his client's telephone conversations intercepted by court-authorised wiretaps amounted to "two months of somebody who obviously likes to talk a lot, but two months of nothing getting done".

"There's no evidence that anyone ever asked anybody for anything with regard to that [US Senate] seat," he said.

Mr Blagojevich was charged last week with a number of offences including soliciting a bribe.

The charges relate to a variety of corruption schemes in which the governor was allegedly involved, including so-called "pay to play" deals - the doling out of jobs, contracts and appointments in return for campaign contributions.

In the conversations, the Democratic governor allegedly discussed offering Mr Obama's Senate seat in return for a well-paid position at a non-profit organisation or a group affiliated with trades unions, according to the affidavit.



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SEE ALSO
Blagojevich faces removal attempt
12 Dec 08 |  Americas
Obama calls on governor to quit
10 Dec 08 |  Americas
Washington diary: Chicago tales
10 Dec 08 |  World News America
Profile: Rod Blagojevich
10 Dec 08 |  Americas
State profile: Illinois
25 Jul 08 |  Americas

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