Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Impeachment vote for Blagojevich

Rod Blagojevich on 10/12/08
Mr Blagojevich would be the first governor impeached in Illinois history

A panel of legislators in the US state of Illinois has recommended impeachment for Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The move paves the way for an impeachment vote by the state House of Representatives, expected on Friday.

If the chamber votes in favour of impeachment, Mr Blagojevich would then be tried by the state Senate, which could remove him from office.

Mr Blagojevich denies seeking to sell President-elect Barack Obama's US Senate seat for personal gain.

Unanimous vote

The 21 members of the Illinois House of Representatives panel looked at testimony from FBI agents who wiretapped phone calls to and from the governor's office about who should fill Barack Obama's Senate seat.

I think this is a good, glad, happy day for Illinois because it points out that nobody is above the law
Bill Black
Republican representative

It is alleged the conversations show that Mr Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was trying to use the seat to get himself or his wife a job.

The panel said the evidence showed Mr Blagojevich was not fit to be governor, and voted unanimously to proceed to an impeachment vote.

"I think this is a good, glad, happy day for Illinois because it points out that nobody is above the law," said Representative Bill Black, a Republican.

"There have been egregious abuses if half of what we read is true," he said.

Roland Burris
Roland Burris was appointed to replace Barack Obama
Mr Blagojevich issued a statement saying the impeachment proceedings "were flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law".

"When the case moves to the Senate, an actual judge will preside over the hearings, and... the outcome will be much different," he said.

Earlier, the man he appointed to succeed Mr Obama, Roland Burris, told the same panel that he had made no deals with the governor to gain the appointment.

In Washington on Tuesday, Democrat senators refused to seat Mr Burris when new lawmakers were sworn in, saying that no-one appointed by Mr Blagojevich could be credible or effective.

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