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State

Congressional Republicans oppose Blagojevich clemency

Kinzinger: 'Absolutely and utterly not' on pardon

The Republicans in Illinois' congressional delegation, including Congressman Adam Kinzinger, are asking President Donald Trump not to grant former Gov. Rod Blagojevich clemency.

Trump has said he is considering commuting the Democrat's sentence for corruption. Blagojevich has served about six-and-a-half years of his 14-year sentence.

Kinzinger, a Channahon Republican, whose district includes Ottawa and Streator, told WROK radio recently it would be one of the biggest mistakes Trump could make, and could potentially cost him Illinois Republican votes.

"Absolutely and utterly not," Kinzinger said when immediately asked on the radio station.

Blagojevich's wife Patti has embarked on a public relations effort to get his sentence commuted. Patti Blagojevich has said she and the couple's two children have long awaited the day "when Rod could come back home where he belongs."

In a letter to Trump the Republican congressmen said commuting Blagojevich's sentence would "send a damaging message on your efforts to root out public corruption in our government."

"He is the swamp of Springfield and needs to be held accountable for the crimes he committed," said Kinzinger, the Channahon Republican in a press statement. "Not only were his actions illegal, but they undermined the voters of Illinois and slapped our democracy in the face. Public corruption runs rampant in Springfield, and we must get a handle on it. Granting clemency to someone who violated the trust of the American people in the way Blagojevich has would have damaging consequences for our political system, the public’s trust and the precedent this would set for the future.”

Blagojevich argued he engaged in run-of-the-mill politicking and never crossed legal lines. But prosecutors say he used his powers as governor to shake people down for campaign contributions, including a children's hospital.

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