Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) deserves 15 to 20 years in prison for trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, federal prosecutors argued in a filing on Monday.
Blagojevich, scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, had asked the court for leniency. Justice Department officials say his pleas for a break show why a harsh sentence is necessary.
“Blagojevich repeatedly committed serious criminal acts that have done enormous damage to public confidence in Illinois government,” the government said in a filing signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar. “He has refused to accept any responsibility for his criminal conduct, continues to blame others for his criminal misdeeds, and has no mitigating factors beyond those frequently found in this Courthouse.”
The former governor’s lawyers had argued that Blagojevich’s advisors “poorly and improperly encouraged him, directed him, used him, lied to him, embarrassed him, and led him into the morass of a six-year investigation that resulted in the destruction of his life and career.”
Prosecutors responded in Monday’s court filing that Blagojevich “alternatively portrays himself as a visionary leader, personally responsible for securing passage of legislation that benefitted disadvantaged citizens, but also a merely ‘nominal’ leader who in truth was controlled by those who purportedly worked under his supervision.”
They continue: “These portrayals are inconsistent with one another and contradicted by the evidence and the jury’s verdicts and, more generally, make clear that Blagojevich accepts no responsibility whatsoever for his criminal conduct.”
More from the filing:
In his current version of events, Blagojevich claims — despite his background as a prosecutor, despite his knowledge of the prosecution of individuals affiliated with his administration for corruption, and despite his public statements condemning those who seek to obtain personal benefit through their governmental office — that he had no idea it was improper to seek high-paying jobs or millions of dollars in funding for a 501(c)(4) in exchange for naming a United States senator. Once again, Blagojevich’s current position demonstrates he has not accepted any responsibility for his criminal behavior.
Prosecutors also take a stab at Blagojevich’s media efforts. They say his argument that he should get leniency because his reputation is ruined and he has been publicly humiliated doesn’t hold water.
“A large degree of Blagojevich’s public humiliation resulted from his frequent, aggressive, and often incredible public statements about his case,” they write. “That Blagojevich’s repeated efforts to sway public opinion did not achieve their desired result is not a basis for leniency.”