After a federal jury convicted him of just one count — lying to the FBI — and deadlocked on 23 other counts, Rod Blagojevich declared his innocence today and defiantly taunted prosecutors.
“The government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me, and on every charge but one, they could not prove that I broke any laws except one, a nebulous charge from five years ago,” he told a crush of reporters at the Dirksen Federal Building this afternoon. “I did not lie to the FBI. I told the truth from the very beginning.”
“We have a prosecutor who has wasted and wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to take me away from my family and my home,” he continued, accusing the government of persecuting him.
In a theatrical burst of emotion, Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Sr. went after U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
“This guy Fitzgerald is a master at indicting people for noncriminal activity,” he said. “This guy is nuts.”
Neighbors gather at Blago home: ‘I came out to cheer’
Some of them took pictures of the five police officers huddled on the corner and the reporters camped in front of the house.
Before the verdict was read, Patti Blagojevich’s sister Deborah Mell arrived with the Blagojevichs’ youngest daughter, who was wearing purple owl pajamas and carrying a colorful thermos.
Springfield reacts to Blago jury verdict
SPRINGFIELD — Democratic and Republican political leaders are saying that today’s deadlocked jury in Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial doesn’t mean the former governor shouldn’t have been impeached and removed from office.
“While jurors deadlocked on many charges, they clearly confirmed the former governor’s pattern of dishonesty,” said Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago. “As I said last January on the day the Senate delivered our verdict, this is a sad occasion. There’s no pleasure or relief in this outcome.
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno said she’s worried the state hasn’t enacted enough ethics reforms in the wake of Blagojevich’s ouster.
“One of my biggest concerns is that the Blagojevich defense team may have convinced people that he was just practicing politics as usual in Illinois,” said Radogno, of Lemont. If that is the case, it is a real indictment of the political leadership in this state. If there is one thing that elected officials need to do in Illinois, it is to send a strong signal that the politics of the past are over, regardless of what the final verdict may be in the Blagojevich trial.
Republican Judy Baar Topinka, who lost to Blagojevich in the 2006 governor’s race as corruption allegations swirled, said she was “disappointed” in the verdict.
“Justice will prevail,” Topinka said in a statement. “It will just take longer than many of us hoped.”