Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), an early Chicago supporter of President Barack Obama, has written a letter asking a federal judge to release disgraced Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich early rather than making him serve his full 14-year sentence.
“I take very seriously the role of public servant and elected official, and it’s true that Rod did not always measure up, but he did much good for the many people in our state,” Schakowsky wrote, according to local Chicago news website DNAInfo.
Blagojevich was convicted in connection with his infamous efforts in late 2008 to sell then-President-elect Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate. Blagojevich called the Senate seat a “fucking valuable thing,” and he aimed to extract its value to the fullest.
At the time, Blagojevich was at the lowest point of his popularity as governor, having failed to convince Illinois legislators to approve a tax hike to fund a public health insurance plan. His proposal went down to defeat unanimously in the State House.
Soon, the man once known to Chicago journalists as “Governor Sunshine” became a national laughing-stock and a synonym for corruption, with his trademark dyed-brown hair, boisterous gait and toothy grin a frequent target for late-night comedians.
Schakowsky was one of Blagojevich’s early backers, telling Chicago magazine in 2003 that as he entered a room, “there was this crackle of electricity. Everyone wanted to touch him.”
The hard-left congresswoman has some familiarity with federal prisons through her husband, Robert Creamer, a prominent Democratic organizer who served time for check-kiting in 2006-7.
Obama and Blagojevich were linked via convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko. The Blagojevich prosecution was also one of the early scandals of the Obama administration, and was seen by some as a pre-emptive effort by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to prevent the new president from protecting his former Chicago cronies.
Blagojevich’s hopes for early release were raised after the Supreme Court unanimously tossed the corruption conviction of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell in June.
According to the Chicago Tribune, federal prosecutors want Blagojevich to serve his full sentence.
But Schakowsky believes that Blagojevich, who is reportedly a model prisoner, has suffered enough. Praising his “progressive policies,” she wrote to the judge: “I found Rod to be a good man whose heart was in the right place — and despite his obvious mistakes — I still do.”
On Wednesday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an address in Springfield, the state capital of Illinois. She did not address the state’s notorious corruption and debt, but instead sought to contrast Abraham Lincoln with Donald Trump, her presumptive Republican opponent in the November presidential election.
Clinton grew up near Chicago, in the suburb of Park Ridge, but was a Republican in her youth. She wrote her college thesis at Wellesley about Chicago organizer Saul Alinsky.
Full disclosure: the author ran against Schakowsky for Congress in 2010.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.