Difference between revisions of "Rod Blagojevich"

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(New page: =Rod Blagojevich= ===From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 6/6/07=== ||||= **Rod Blagojevich** || ||||= [[image:http://upload.wikime...)
 
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=Rod Blagojevich=  
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{{Infobox_Governor
===From [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich|Wikipedia]], the free encyclopedia 6/6/07===
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|name= Rod Blagojevich
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|image= Blagojevich.jpg
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|caption=Blagojevich's congressional portrait
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|order=42<sup>nd</sup>
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|office= Governor of Illinois
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|term_start= [[January 13]], [[2003]]
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|term_end=
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|lieutenant= [[Pat Quinn (politician)|Pat Quinn]]
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|predecessor= [[George Ryan]]
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|successor=Incumbent
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|birth_date= {{birth date and age|1956|12|10}}
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|birth_place= {{flagicon|Illinois}} [[Chicago, Illinois]]
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|death_date=
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|death_place=
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|spouse= Patricia Mell
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|profession= [[Lawyer]]
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|party= [[United States Democratic Party|Democratic]]
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|religion=[[Serbian Orthodox]] <ref>[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0603120284mar12,1,1214064.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true Chicago Tribune article]</ref>
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|footnotes=
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}}
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'''Milorad Blagojevich,''' commonly known as '''Rod R. Blagojevich''' (pronounced [[International Phonetic Alphabet|IPA]]: {{IPA|[blə.ˈgɔɪ.ə.ˌvɪtʃ]}} {{audio|Blagojevich.ogg|listen}}, born December 10, 1956) is an United States American politician from the U.S. state of [[Illinois]]. A [[Democratic Party of Illinois|Democrat]], Blagojevich served as a representative of Chicago, Illinois in the United States Congress and was later elected Governor of Illinois, an office he holds today. He is the second [[Serbs|Serbian American]] to be elected governor of any state of the United States ([[George Voinovich]] from [[Ohio]] was the first).
  
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Blagojevich is married to the former Patricia Mell, daughter of Chicago Alderman Richard Mell. The couple has two daughters, Amy and Anne. Anne was born just months after her father was sworn in as governor. Blagojevich has no middle name, but uses the initial "R." in honor of his late father Radisaz Blagojevich. <ref>[http://governing.typepad.com/13thfloor/2006/12/not_a_hussein_i.html Blog entry by] Josh Goodman of ''Governing'' magazine.</ref>
  
||||= **Rod Blagojevich** ||
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==Education==
||||= [[image:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Blagojevich.jpg width="181" height="249" link="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blagojevich.jpg"]]
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Blagojevich was born and raised in Chicago's northwest side in a middle-class family. His father was a former Chetnik who immigrated to the United States and found work as a steel plant laborer.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} He has an older brother, Robert.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} Blagojevich spent much of his childhood working odd jobs to help the family survive. He was a shoe shiner and pizza delivery boy before working at a meat packing plant.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} In order to afford college, Blagojevich worked at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System|Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System as a dishwasher.{{Fact|date=February 2007}}
Blagojevich's congressional portrait
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||
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He graduated from Chicago's Foreman High School after transferring from Lane Technical College Prep High School. After graduation, he enrolled at the University of Tampa because, with his lackluster grades and an ACT of 18 or 19, he could not get into a more prestigious school.<ref>[http://www.carolfelsenthal.com/PDFs/GovernorSunshine.pdf Profile on the website] of biographer Carol Felsenthal.</ref>  After two years, he transferred to [[Northwestern University]] in suburban Evanston, [[Illinois]] where he obtained his bachelor's degree in 1979. He attended Pepperdine University law school where he obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence in 1983. Upon his return to Chicago, Blagojevich entered the legal profession in the public sector. He served as Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, prosecuting domestic abuse crimes and felony weapons cases.
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**42nd [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_of_Illinois|Governor of Illinois]]** ||
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==Legislator==
||||= **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incumbent|Incumbent]]** ||
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With the backing of his influential father-in-law, alderman [[Richard Mell]], Blagojevich ran for a seat in the [[Illinois General Assembly]] and won in 1992. Most of his legislative accomplishments centered on crime and justice issues. He took from his experiences as a prosecutor to pass laws that he argued would strengthen the state's judicial system and cut down on crime.  
||||= **Assumed office**
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[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/January_13|January 13]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003|2003]] ||
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The Fifth Congressional District, in which Blagojevich lived, had long been represented by powerful Chicago Congressman [[Daniel Rostenkowski]], who served as chairman of the [[House Ways and Means Committee]]. However, following his loss in 1994 (Rostenkowski pled guilty to mail fraud), the overwhelmingly Democratic district was represented by Republican Michael Patrick Flanagan.  
||~ [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieutenant_Governor_of_Illinois|Lieutenant(s)]] || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Quinn_%28politician%29|Pat Quinn]] ||
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||~ Preceded by || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Ryan|George Ryan]] ||
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However, in 1996, Blagojevich defeated Flanagan with support from his father-in-law, and served three terms in the United States House of Representatives. (Following Blagojevich's election as governor, the Fifth District elected former [[Bill Clinton|Clinton]] aide and 1992 financial chief [[Rahm Emanuel]]. Emanuel was chosen to head the [[DCCC]] for the 2006 election cycle.)
||~ Succeeded by || Incumbent ||
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|||| ----
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In Congress, Blagojevich continued to champion anti-crime measures, especially gun control legislation. In general, though, he was not known as a particularly active Congressman. Blagojevich was thrust into international prominence in the late 1990s when he traveled with Jesse Jackson to Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia to negotiate the release of American prisoners of war with president Slobodan Milošević.
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||~ Born || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_10|December 10]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956|1956]] (1956-12-10) (age 50)
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On October 10, 2002, Rod Blagojevich was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
[[image:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Flag_of_Illinois.svg/22px-Flag_of_Illinois.svg.png width="22" height="13" link="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Flag_of_Illinois.svg"]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago%2C_Illinois|Chicago, Illinois]] ||
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||~ Political party || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Democratic_Party|Democratic]] ||
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==2002 Gubernatorial election==
||~ Spouse || Patricia Mell ||
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In 2002, Blagojevich ran for his party's nomination to become governor. Blagojevich won a close primary campaign against former Illinois Attorney General [[Roland Burris]], whose base was largely African-American voters, and Chicago Public Schools Superintendent [[Paul Vallas]], who ran strong in the suburban "collar" counties of Chicago. Blagojevich won the primary largely by dominating the downstate Illinois (i.e., outside Chicago and the collar counties) vote.
||~ Profession || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawyer|Lawyer]] ||
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||~ Religion || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_Orthodox|Serbian Orthodox]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-0|[1]]] ||
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In the [[general election]], Blagojevich defeated [[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]] [[IL Attorney General - Lisa Madigan|Illinois Attorney General]] [[Jim Ryan (politician)|Jim Ryan]] handily (Ryan chose to run for Governor instead of running again for the Attorney General position, which is now held by [[IL Attorney General - Lisa Madigan|Lisa Madigan]]). Ethics scandals had plagued the previous administration of Republican [[George Ryan]] (no relation to Jim), and Blagojevich's campaign focused on the theme of "ending business as usual" in state government.  
**Milorad Blagojevich,** commonly known as **Rod R. Blagojevich** (pronounced [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet|IPA]]: [blə.ˈgɔɪ.ə.ˌvɪtʃ] [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c9/Blagojevich.ogg|listen]] ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Media_help|help]]·[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blagojevich.ogg|info]]), born [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_10|December 10]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956|1956]]) is an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States|American]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politician|politician]] from the state of [[Illinois]]. A [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_of_Illinois|Democrat]], Blagojevich served as a representative of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago%2C_Illinois|Chicago]] in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Congress|United States Congress]] and was later elected Governor of Illinois, an office he holds today. He is the second [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbs|Serbian American]] to be elected [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor|governor]] of any state of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States|United States]] ([[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Voinovich|George Voinovich]] from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohio|Ohio]] was the first).
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Blagojevich is married to the former Patricia Mell, daughter of Chicago Alderman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Mell|Richard Mell]]. The couple has two daughters, Amy and Anne. Anne was born just months after her father was sworn in as governor. Blagojevich has no middle name, but uses the initial "R." in honor of his late father Radisaz Blagojevich. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-1|[2]]]
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==Gubernatorial administration==
|| ==Contents== [[[javascript:toggleToc()|hide]]]* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Education|1 Education]]
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* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Legislator|2 Legislator]]
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After the 2002 elections, Democrats had control of the Illinois House, Senate, and all but one statewide office. Since taking office, Blagojevich has signed numerous pieces of [[progressivism|progressive]] legislation such as ethics reform, death penalty reform, a state [[Earned Income Tax Credit]], and expansions of health programs like KidCare and FamilyCare. Blagojevich signed a bill in 2005 that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit.  
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#2002_Gubernatorial_election|3 2002 Gubernatorial election]]
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* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Gubernatorial_administration|4 Gubernatorial administration]]
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Shortly after taking office in 2003, Blagojevich continued support of a "moratorium" on executions of Death Row inmates, even though no such executions are likely to occur for years (his predecessor, George Ryan, commuted all of the death sentences in the state shortly before leaving office in 2003).<ref>[http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=6&did=483 Outline of Death Penalty] moratorium and reform in Illinois.</ref> This support has continued through his administration.<ref>[http://www.icadp.org/page297.html Reprint of] ''Chicago Defender'' at the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website.</ref>
** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Criticism.2C_controversies.2C_and_scandal|4.1 Criticism, controversies, and scandal]]
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** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Daily_Show_appearance|4.2 Daily Show appearance]]
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** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Feud|4.3 Feud]]
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Other notable actions of his term include a strict new ethics law and a comprehensive death penalty reform bill that was written by now-U.S. Senator [[Barack Obama]] (when he was serving as an Illinois State Senator), and the late U.S. Sen. [[Paul M. Simon]].  
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#2006_re-election|5 2006 re-election]]
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* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Trivia|6 Trivia]]
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Despite an annual budget crunch, Blagojevich has overseen an increase in funding for health care and education every year without raising general sales or income taxes. He has, however, been criticized by Republicans and many moderate Democrats for failing to adequately fund the state pension system. On 10 January 2006, Blagojevich announced a proposal for a new three billion (US) Dollar spending plan for Illinois roads, mass transit, and schools, to be paid for by increased tax revenue and new gambling proposals (such as Keno and Lottery games).  
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#Electoral_history|7 Electoral history]]
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* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#References|8 References]]
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<ref>[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-060110blago,1,5817650.story?coll=chi-news-hed Chicago Tribune article on Keno proposals]</ref> The proposal met with immediate opposition by members of the Republican Party in Illinois and many Democrats, who view it as "an election year ploy." The suggestion to legalize Keno within Illinois was later withdrawn.<ref>[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-060213statebudget,1,3673774.story Chicago Tribune] article on the withdrawal of the Keno proposal</ref>
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#External_links|9 External links]] ||
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[[#Education]]
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Another early 2006 proposal included "universal preschool" for all three and four year old children in Illinois. Legislation authorizing the program was adopted as part of the fiscal 2007 budget.<ref>[http://www.earlylearningillinois.org/ Website for] Early Learning Illinois</ref>
==Education==  
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Blagojevich was born and raised in Chicago's northwest side in a middle-class family. His father was a former [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chetnik|Chetnik]] who immigrated to the United States and found work as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steel|steel]] plant laborer.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] He has an older brother, Robert.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] Blagojevich spent much of his childhood working odd jobs to help the family survive. He was a shoe shiner and pizza delivery boy before working at a meat packing plant.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] In order to afford [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College|college]], Blagojevich worked at the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Alaska_Pipeline_System|Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System]] as a dishwasher.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]]
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Governor Blagojevich is a long time supporter of [[gun control]]. He has tried to raise the price of an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card from $5.00 to $500.00, saying that such a large increase was necessary so people would think twice about wanting to own a gun.<ref>[http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=59392 US Newswire Article]</ref> Blagojevich vetoed 3 gun bills in 2005, which would have:
He graduated from Chicago's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreman_High_School|Foreman High School]] after transferring from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lane_Technical_College_Prep_High_School|Lane Technical High School]]. After graduation, he enrolled at the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Tampa|University of Tampa]] because, with his lackluster grades and an ACT of 18 or 19, he could not get into a more prestigious school.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-2|[3]]] After two years, he transferred to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwestern_University|Northwestern University]] in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburb|suburban]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evanston%2C_Illinois|Evanston]] where he obtained his bachelor's degree in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979|1979]]. He attended [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepperdine_University|Pepperdine University]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_school|Law School]] where he obtained his [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctorate_of_jurisprudence|doctorate of jurisprudence]] in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983|1983]]. Upon his return to Chicago, Blagojevich entered the legal profession in the public sector. He served as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cook_County%2C_Illinois|Cook County]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State%27s_Attorney|Assistant State's Attorney]], prosecuting [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_abuse|domestic abuse]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime|crimes]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony|felony]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weapon|weapons]] cases.
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[[#Legislator]]
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==Legislator==  
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With the backing of his influential father-in-law, alderman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Mell|Richard Mell]], Blagojevich ran for a seat in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_General_Assembly|Illinois General Assembly]] and won in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1992|1992]]. Most of his legislative accomplishments centered on crime and justice issues. He took from his experiences as a prosecutor to pass laws that he argued would strengthen the state's judicial system and cut down on crime.
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The Fifth Congressional District, in which Blagojevich lived, had long been represented by powerful Chicago Congressman [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Rostenkowski|Daniel Rostenkowski]], who served as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chairman|chairman]] of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_Ways_and_Means_Committee|House Ways and Means Committee]]. However, following his loss in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994|1994]] (Rostenkowski pled guilty to mail fraud), the overwhelmingly Democratic district was represented by Republican [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Patrick_Flanagan|Mike Flanagan]].
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However, in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1996|1996]], Blagojevich defeated Flanagan with support from his father-in-law, and served three terms in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives|United States House of Representatives]]. (Following Blagojevich's election as governor, the Fifth District elected former [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Clinton|Clinton]] aide and 1992 financial chief [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahm_Emanuel|Rahm Emanuel]]. Emanuel was chosen to head the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DCCC|DCCC]] for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]] election cycle.)
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In Congress, Blagojevich continued to champion anti-crime measures, especially gun control legislation. In general, though, he was not known as a particularly active Congressman. Blagojevich was thrust into international prominence in the late [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1990s|1990s]] when he traveled with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Jackson|Jesse Jackson]] to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgrade|Belgrade]] in the former [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslavia|Yugoslavia]] to negotiate the release of American prisoners of war with president [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Milo%C5%A1evi%C4%87|Slobodan Milošević]].
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On October 10, 2002, Rod Blagojevich was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq|invasion of Iraq]].
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[[#2002_Gubernatorial_election]]
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==2002 Gubernatorial election==  
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In 2002, Blagojevich ran for his party's nomination to become governor. Blagojevich won a close primary campaign against former Illinois Attorney General [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Burris|Roland Burris]], whose base was largely African-American voters, and Chicago Public Schools Superintendent [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Vallas|Paul Vallas]], who ran strong in the suburban "collar" counties of Chicago. Blagojevich won the primary largely by dominating the downstate Illinois (i.e., outside [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago|Chicago]] and the collar counties) vote.
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In the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_election|general election]], Blagojevich defeated [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29|Republican]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Attorney_General|Illinois Attorney General]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Ryan_%28politician%29|Jim Ryan]] handily (Ryan chose to run for Governor instead of running again for the Attorney General position, which is now held by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_Madigan|Lisa Madigan]]). Ethics scandals had plagued the previous administration of Republican [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Ryan|George Ryan]] (no relation to Jim), and Blagojevich's campaign focused on the theme of "ending business as usual" in state government.
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[[#Gubernatorial_administration]]
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==Gubernatorial administration==  
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After the 2002 elections, Democrats had control of the Illinois House, Senate, and all but one statewide office. Since taking office, Blagojevich has since signed numerous pieces of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressivism|progressive]] legislation such as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics|ethics]] reform, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_penalty|death penalty]] reform, a state [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_Income_Tax_Credit|Earned Income Tax Credit]], and expansions of health programs like KidCare and FamilyCare. Blagojevich signed a bill in 2005 that prohibited [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination|discrimination]] based on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation|sexual orientation]] in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit.
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Shortly after taking office in 2003, Blagojevich continued support of a "moratorium" on executions of Death Row inmates, even though no such executions are likely to occur for years (his predecessor, George Ryan, commuted all of the death sentences in the state shortly before leaving office in 2003).[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-3|[4]]] This support has continued through his administration.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-4|[5]]]
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[[image:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fe/Blagojevich_medicare.jpg/250px-Blagojevich_medicare.jpg width="250" height="179" link="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blagojevich_medicare.jpg"]][[image:http://en.wikipedia.org/skins-1.5/common/images/magnify-clip.png width="15" height="11" link="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Blagojevich_medicare.jpg"]] Blagojevich with Congressman Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) advocating for changes in [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_%28United_States%29|medicare]] legislation.
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Other notable actions of his term include a strict new ethics law and a comprehensive death penalty reform bill that was written by now-U.S. Senator [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama|Barack Obama]] (when he was serving as an Illinois State Senator), and the late U.S. Sen. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_M._Simon|Paul M. Simon]].
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Despite an annual budget crunch, Blagojevich has overseen an increase in funding for health care and education every year without raising general sales or income taxes. He has, however, been criticized by Republicans and many moderate Democrats for failing to adequately fund the state pension system. On 10 January 2006, Blagojevich announced a proposal for a new three billion (US) Dollar spending plan for Illinois roads, mass transit, and schools, to be paid for by increased tax revenue and new gambling proposals (such as Keno and Lottery games). [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-5|[6]]] The proposal met with immediate opposition by members of the Republican Party in Illinois and many Democrats, who view it as "an election year ploy." The suggestion to legalize Keno within Illinois was later withdrawn.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-6|[7]]]
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Another early 2006 proposal included "universal preschool" for all three and four year old children in Illinois. Legislation authorizing the program was adopted as part of the fiscal 2007 budget.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-7|[8]]]
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Governor Blagojevich is a long time supporter of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control|gun control]]. He has tried to raise the price of an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card from $5.00 to $500.00, saying that such a large increase was necessary so people would think twice about wanting to own a gun.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-8|[9]]] Blagojevich vetoed 3 gun bills in 2005, which would have:
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# Eliminated the police database of gun purchases
 
# Eliminated the police database of gun purchases
# Eliminated the waiting period for someone wanting to buy a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifle|rifle]] or [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shotgun|shotgun]], when trading in a previously owned weapon
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# Eliminated the waiting period for someone wanting to buy a [[rifle]] or [[shotgun]], when trading in a previously owned weapon
# Overridden local laws regulating transport of firearms. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-9|[10]]]
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# Overridden local laws regulating transport of firearms. <ref>[http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=3663008 KWQC story]</ref>
In February 2006, in his "State of the State" address, he talked of the need for a state ban on semi-automatic firearms, prompting threats from several gunmakers in the state to leave. Among these were [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArmaLite|ArmaLite]] Inc., [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_River_Arms|Rock River Arms]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Baer|Les Baer]] Custom and the legendary [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield%2C_Inc.|Springfield Armory]].[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-10|[11]]]
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In February 2006, in his "State of the State" address, he talked of the need for a state ban on semi-automatic firearms, prompting threats from several gunmakers in the state to leave. Among these were ArmaLite Inc., Rock River Arms, Les Baer Custom and the legendary [[Springfield, Inc.|Springfield Armory]].<ref>[http://pantagraph.com/articles/2006/03/02/news/doc440716d1465c2131108157.txt Story in the] Bloomington Pantagraph</ref>
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{{Unreferenced|date=October 2006}}
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The Governor has striven to improve [[traffic safety]]. Blagojevich proposed and signed into law a bill that was concerned with making seatbelt enforcement a primary offense (no traffic offense required before being stopped for a seatbelt violation).{{Fact|date=February 2007}} Another bill signed by the Governor allows the [[Illinois State Police]] to operate photo radar on Illinois Tollways in construction zones.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} He has vetoed a bill that would permit trucks to drive 65 mph instead of the current 55 mph.{{Fact|date=February 2007}}
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===Criticism, controversies, and scandal===
  
The Governor has striven to improve [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_safety|traffic safety]]. Blagojevich proposed and signed into law a bill that was concerned with making seatbelt enforcement a primary offense (no traffic offense required before being stopped for a seatbelt violation).[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] Another bill signed by the Governor allows the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_State_Police|Illinois State Police]] to operate photo radar on Illinois Tollways in construction zones.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] He has vetoed a bill that would permit trucks to drive 65 mph instead of the current 55 mph.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]]
 
[[#Criticism.2C_controversies.2C_and_scandal]]
 
===Criticism, controversies, and scandal===
 
 
Governor Blagojevich has been criticized by the Illinois State Rifle Association, saying that "Rod should spend more time catching criminals and less time controlling guns." His support for tightening the gun laws of Illinois has earned him the ire of gun owners groups.
 
Governor Blagojevich has been criticized by the Illinois State Rifle Association, saying that "Rod should spend more time catching criminals and less time controlling guns." His support for tightening the gun laws of Illinois has earned him the ire of gun owners groups.
Gov. Blagojevich has been criticized for using what his opponents call "gimmicks" to balance the state budget. Republicans have also claimed that he is simply passing the state's fiscal problems on to future generations by borrowing his way to balanced budgets. Indeed, the 2005 state budget called for paying the bills by shortening a state employees' pension fund by $1.2 billion.
 
In addition, Blagojevich has been criticized for rapidly expanding the role of Illinois State government, despite current difficulties in funding existing programs.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-11|[12]]]
 
In May 2003, Blagojevich passed a series of measures aimed at raising revenue from businesses around the state to help balance his budget. Among the new sources were a 10-fold to 20-fold increase to automobile dealer license fees and a measure to make businesses print their own tax forms (and all other state forms). These measures are considered controversial because they caused a greatly increased financial burden on small business without attracting much public attention [[http://dcglobal.webmakerx.net/DCImages/Documents/09June03.pdf|[1]]].
 
In October 2005, the State of Illinois had $1.4 billion in overdue medical bills, yet in November 2005, Blagojevich created two new government agencies and signed the All Kids health insurance bill into law. The bill, criticized as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialist|Socialist]] medicine by its opponents, obligates Illinois to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance to every child in the state.
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_30|December 30]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005|2005]], it was reported that a leasing deal reached for occupants of the remodeled [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Tollway_oasis|Illinois Tollway oases]] has come under investigation by U.S. Attorney [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Fitzgerald|Patrick Fitzgerald]]. This is in addition to other investigations in the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Family Services (see [[http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=137371|[2]]], [[http://www.dailyherald.com/news/illinoisstory.asp?id=137738|[3]]]). Investigations into other programs related to Illinois' Tollway System, specifically the delivery of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-Pass|I-Pass]] transponders, have also been announced (see [[http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-igor26.html|[4]]]).
 
Blagojevich issued a controversial executive order in 2004, requiring pharmacists in the state to dispense "morning after" birth control medication, even if they reject on moral or religious grounds. This order was not well received by some pharmacists (see [[http://www.upi.com/HealthBusiness/view.php?StoryID=20060201-033743-9067r|[5]]],[[http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media_player/play.jhtml?itemId=58791|[6]]]).
 
In early-2006, after the appointment of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Claudette_Marie_Muhammad&action=edit|Claudette Marie Muhammad]], chief of protocol of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nation_of_Islam|Nation of Islam]] to an Illinois anti-discrimination commission, five other members of this commission resigned. Muhammad has distanced herself from statements made by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Farrakhan|Louis Farrakhan]], and Blagojevich has promised to "oversee meaningful dialogue with leaders of the Jewish, black and gay communities." Despite this, the Anti-Discrimination League has been calling for her removal from the state panel. [[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/lake/chi-0603100260mar10,1,1021968.story|[7]]] The resignation or removal of fellow commission member Rick Garcia has also been called for by the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Illinois_Family_Institute&action=edit|Illinois Family Institute]], over statements made by Garcia about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Cardinal_George|Francis Cardinal George]]. [[http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=32336|[8]]] Republican candidate for Governor [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_D._Oberweis|Jim Oberweis]] echoed the call for Garcia's removal or resignation in an e-mail release as part of his campaign for the Illinois Republican gubernatorial nomination. [[http://view.exacttarget.com/?ffcb10-fe991072776d067c77-fdfa15757362067d7015727c-fef215797c6d05|[9]]]
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_30|June 30]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]], it was revealed that state Attorney General Lisa Madigan had received a letter from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Attorney|United States Attorney]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Fitzgerald|Patrick Fitzgerald]], stating that Fitzgerald is looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" in the Blagojevich administration, and thanking Madigan for turning over her office's investigation to the federal authorities.[[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/01/ap/politics/mainD8IISTH00.shtml|[10]]][[http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/politics/14942138.htm|[11]]] Madigan later stated that she could not endorse Blagojevich because of her office's role in the investigation.[[http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_228185139.html|[12]]][[http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/politics/15289626.htm|[13]]]
 
In September 2006, it was revealed that Blagojevich had accepted a $1,500 check from Mike Ascaridis in 2003, whom the governor described as one of his closest friends. [[http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4585992|[14]]] The check was given two weeks after Ascaridis' wife, Beverly, received a state job at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Mrs. Ascaridis received this appointment despite having failed a state hiring exam. [[http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4585992|[15]]] Blagojevich initially asserted that the check was written as a birthday gift to his oldest daughter. He then later said it was a gift for his younger daughter's christening. [[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/05/AR2006100500857.html|[16]]] U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald [[http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/05/AR2006100500857.html|[17]]] and the FBI [[http://cbs2chicago.com/politics/local_story_258190341.html|[18]]] are investigating the matter.
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_2|October 2]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]], the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis_Post-Dispatch|St. Louis Post-Dispatch]] reported that a company that contributed close to $120,000 to Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial campaign won a no-bid contract. Even though the contract was awarded by the Illinois' Capital Development Board [[http://www.cdb.state.il.us/default.shtml|[19]]], the board still reports to the Governor [[http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4619388|[20]]].
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/October_11|October 11]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]], Blagojevich fundraiser [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoin_Rezko|Antoin Rezko]] was indicted for participation in a scheme to obtain kickbacks from investment firms seeking business from the state teachers' pension system.[[http://weather.myfoxchicago.com/weather/charging_documents.pdf|[21]]][[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-061011rezko,0,6245665.story?coll=chi-news-hed|[22]]] Friends of Blagojevich also accepted a $10,000 campaign contribution from the Elevator Constructors Local 2 PAC fund on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_23|July 23]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003|2003]]. In return the IUEC received several board positions on the Illinois Elevator Safety Board.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Citing_sources|[//citation needed//]]] In addition, the governor's wife, Patricia Blagojevich was a business partner of indicted fundraiser [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoin_Rezko|Antoin Rezko]] for at least a decade. In 2004, she received over $38,000 in real estate commissions from him. [[http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_292074251.html|[23]]]
 
In October 2006, it was revealed that Patricia Blagojevich, a licensed real estate broker, earned $113,700 in commissions from Anita and Amrish Mahajan. The amount was the only commissions earned by Patricia Blagojevich this year. Anita Mahajan owns a urinalysis company that holds a no-bid contract with the state Department of Children and Family Services. Amrish Mahajan is president of a bank that has two requests pending before state regulators to acquire two out-of-state banks. [[http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/115844.php?contentType=4&contentId=230995|[24]]]
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_27|November 27]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]], a day after the indictment of lawyer Milberg Weiss, "Friends of Blagojevich" returned a $10,000 contribution his campaign received from Milberg Weiss, records show that Blagojevich has not returned another $40,000 from Melvyn Weiss and other lawyers in Weiss' firm. Weiss paid $5,000 toward lodging, meals and entertainment for Blagojevich and others with him during the December 2003 trip to New York. [[http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/150442,CST-NWS-pension27.article|[25]]]
 
In spring, 2007, Blagojevich proposed a $7.6 billion dollar tax increase, with proceeds earmarked to provide universal healthcare in Illinois. The plan, a gross receipts tax on businesses, would have been the largest tax increase in state history. When it became apparent that the plan would be defeated, Blagojevich announced that supporters should vote against it. It was defeated by a vote of 107-0. [[http://www.lincolncourier.com/story.asp?SID=5920&SEC=8|[26]]], [[http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010071|[27]]]
 
[[#Daily_Show_appearance]]
 
===//Daily Show// appearance===
 
In early-February 2006, Blagojevich appeared on //[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Show|The Daily Show]]// to discuss his executive order that pharmacists must dispense any drugs for which a customer had a valid prescription, including birth control pills and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levonorgestrel|Plan B]]. This controversial measure was being challenged on the show by state legislator [[http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ron_Stephens&action=edit|Ron Stephens]] from [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland%2C_Illinois|Highland]] in the 102nd District [[http://www.ronstephens.com/index.htm|[28]]]. Blagojevich was interviewed by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Jones_%28actor%29|Jason Jones]] who repeatedly pretended to be unable to pronounce Blagojevich and simply called him "Governor Smith". This prompted Blagojevich to turn to the camera and ask "Is he teasing me or is that legit?" Two weeks after the interview, Blagojevich admitted that he was unaware of the nature of the show.[[http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02/23/illinois.gov.spoof.ap/index.html|[29]]]
 
[[#Feud]]
 
===Feud===
 
A major event of 2005 was Blagojevich's feud with his father-in-law, Richard Mell. The feud went public when Blagojevich shut down a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landfill|landfill]] owned by a distant cousin of Patti Blagojevich for environmental problems and it was revealed that Mell had served as an advisor to the cousin. Legislation was eventually passed giving the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Environmental_Protection_Agency|Illinois Environmental Protection Agency]] more authority over landfills and preventing relatives of top Illinois officials from owning landfills.
 
Regarding his decision to shut down the landfill despite the fact the landfill was owned by a relative, he said, "This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that knowing what's coming your way? I say I do." This remark was both ridiculed as an undignified comment for a governor as well as criticized for being sexist. [[http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_138131737.html|[30]]]
 
In June, Mell served as honorary co-chairman of an event for state Representative Jack Franks, a longtime Blagojevich critic. Blagojevich's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieutenant_governor|lieutenant governor]] is [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Quinn_%28politician%29|Pat Quinn]], with whom he has had a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sour|sour]] relationship since taking [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Office|office]]. Most recently, Quinn and Blagojevich have publicly disputed the latter's proposed "Gross Receipts Tax" to increase revenue for schools and other projects within Illinois.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_note-12|[13]]]
 
[[#2006_re-election]]
 
==2006 re-election==
 
During 2005-2006, he served as Federal Liaison for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Governors_Association|Democratic Governors Association]]. Numerous scandals brought the Governor's approval rating as low as 36%, with 56% "disapproving" near the end of 2005 [[http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=eb952d0f-9d58-4c0f-9933-a9da05b7e78e|[31]]] The most recent polling has his approval rating at 38% with 59% dissaproving. [[http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=1ef045f0-538c-4989-9806-84a33c9a522b|[32]]]
 
By early-2006, five Republicans ran in the primary for the right to challenge him in the general election, with state treasurer [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Baar_Topinka|Judy Baar Topinka]] eventually winning the nomination.
 
Blagojevich formally launched his 2006 re-election campaign for Governor of Illinois on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_19|February 19]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006|2006]] [[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0602200172feb20,1,1677391.story|[33]]]. He defeated challenger [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Eisendrath|Edwin Eisendrath]] in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democratic Party]] primary election on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_21|March 21]].
 
On [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_7|November 7]], he was declared winner in the re-election campaign against challengers [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Baar_Topinka|Judy Baar Topinka]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Whitney|Rich Whitney]].
 
[[#Trivia]]
 
==Trivia==
 
As Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich is entitled to live in the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Executive_Mansion|Illinois Executive Mansion]], located in the state capital. However, he and his family have opted to remain in Chicago (other governors have also chosen not to reside in the Mansion, usually retaining their residences in other towns). One reason he gave was an unwillingness to move his infant daughter away from home. In the governor's absence, the //[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_Times|Illinois Times]]//, a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspaper|newspaper]] based in Springfield, held a satirical contest in 2003 for readers to decide how the mansion should be used. Suggestions ranged from using it as a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel|hotel]] or [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeless_shelter|homeless shelter]] to converting it to a "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothel|house of ill repute]]." [[http://www.illinoistimes.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A2519|[34]]]
 
  
==Contact Information==
+
Gov. Blagojevich has been criticized for using what his opponents call "gimmicks" to balance the state budget. Republicans have also claimed that he is simply passing the state's fiscal problems on to future generations by borrowing his way to balanced budgets. Indeed, the 2005 state budget called for paying the bills by shortening a state employees' pension fund by $1.2 billion.
Office of the Governor
+
<!-- anyone know which fund? Is this the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) or one of the others? -->
207 State House
+
 
Springfield, IL 62706
+
In addition, Blagojevich has been criticized for rapidly expanding the role of Illinois State government, despite current difficulties in funding existing programs.<ref>[http://www.freewillblog.com/index.php/weblog/archives/C13 Criticism of] Blagojevich</ref>
Phone: 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121
+
 
[[#Electoral_history]]
+
In May 2003, Blagojevich passed a series of measures aimed at raising revenue from businesses around the state to help balance his budget. Among the new sources were a 10-fold to 20-fold increase to automobile dealer license fees and a measure to make businesses print their own tax forms (and all other state forms).  These measures are considered controversial because they caused a greatly increased financial burden on small business without attracting much public attention [http://dcglobal.webmakerx.net/DCImages/Documents/09June03.pdf].
==Electoral history==
+
 
|||||||||||||| **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives|U.S. House]], [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois%27_5th_congressional_district|5th District of Illinois]]** (General Election) ||
+
In October 2005, the State of Illinois had $1.4 billion in overdue medical bills, yet in November 2005, Blagojevich created two new government agencies and signed the All Kids health insurance bill into law. The bill, criticized as [[Socialist]] medicine by its opponents, obligates Illinois to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance to every child in the state.
||~ Year ||~ Winning Candidate ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||~ Opponent ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||
+
 
|| [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_elections%2C_1996|1996]] || Rod Blagojevich || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democrat]] || 64% || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Patrick_Flanagan|Michael Flanagan]] (inc.) || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29|Republican]] || 36% ||
+
On December 30, 2005, it was reported that a leasing deal reached for occupants of the remodeled [[Illinois Tollway oasis|Illinois Tollway oases]] has come under investigation by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. This is in addition to other investigations in the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Family Services (see [http://www.dailyherald.com/story.asp?id=137371], [http://www.dailyherald.com/news/illinoisstory.asp?id=137738]). Investigations into other programs related to Illinois' Tollway System, specifically the delivery of I-Pass transponders, have also been announced (see [http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-igor26.html]).
|| [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_elections%2C_1998|1998]] || Rod Blagojevich (inc.) || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democrat]] || 74% || Alan Spitz || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29|Republican]] || 24% ||
+
 
|| [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_elections%2C_2000|2000]] || Rod Blagojevich (inc.) || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democrat]] || 87% || Matt Beauchamp || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_%28United_States%29|Libertarian]] || 13% ||
+
Blagojevich issued a controversial executive order in 2004, requiring pharmacists in the state to dispense "morning after" birth control medication, even if they reject on moral or religious grounds. This order was not well received by some pharmacists (see [http://www.upi.com/HealthBusiness/view.php?StoryID=20060201-033743-9067r],[http://www.comedycentral.com/sitewide/media_player/play.jhtml?itemId=58791]).
|||||||||||||||||||||||||| **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_of_Illinois|Governor of Illinois]]** (General Election) ||
+
 
||~ Year ||~ Winning Candidate ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||~ Opponent ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||~ Opponent ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||~ Opponent ||~ Party ||~ Pct ||
+
In early-2006, after the appointment of [[Claudette Marie Muhammad]], chief of protocol of the Nation of Islam to an Illinois anti-discrimination commission, five other members of this commission resigned. Muhammad has distanced herself from statements made by [[Louis Farrakhan]], and Blagojevich has promised to "oversee meaningful dialogue with leaders of the Jewish, black and gay communities." Despite this, the Anti-Discrimination League has been calling for her removal from the state panel. [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/lake/chi-0603100260mar10,1,1021968.story] The resignation or removal of fellow commission member Rick Garcia has also been called for by the [[Illinois Family Institute]], over statements made by Garcia about [[Francis Cardinal George]]. [http://www.illinoisfamily.org/news/contentview.asp?c=32336] Republican candidate for Governor [[James D. Oberweis|Jim Oberweis]] echoed the call for Garcia's removal or resignation in an e-mail release as part of his campaign for the Illinois Republican gubernatorial nomination. [http://view.exacttarget.com/?ffcb10-fe991072776d067c77-fdfa15757362067d7015727c-fef215797c6d05]
|| 2002 || Rod Blagojevich || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democrat]] || 52% || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Ryan_%28politician%29|Jim Ryan]] || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29|Republican]] || 45% || Cal Skinner || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_Party_%28United_States%29|Libertarian]] || 2% || Marisellis Brown || Independent || 1% ||
+
 
|| 2006 || Rod Blagojevich (inc.) || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Party_%28United_States%29|Democrat]] || 49.8% || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Baar_Topinka|Judy Baar Topinka]] || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_%28United_States%29|Republican]] || 40.25% || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Whitney|Rich Whitney]] || [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_%28United_States%29|Green]] || 10.36% ||
+
On June 30, 2006, it was revealed that state Attorney General Lisa Madigan had received a letter from [[United States Attorney]] [[Patrick Fitzgerald]], stating that Fitzgerald is looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" in the Blagojevich administration, and thanking Madigan  for turning over her office's investigation to the federal authorities.[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/01/ap/politics/mainD8IISTH00.shtml][http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/politics/14942138.htm]
[[#References]]
+
Madigan later stated that she could not endorse Blagojevich because of her office's role in the investigation.[http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_228185139.html][http://www.belleville.com/mld/belleville/news/politics/15289626.htm]
==References==
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-0|^]]** [[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0603120284mar12,1,1214064.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true|Chicago Tribune article]]
+
In September 2006, it was revealed that Blagojevich had accepted a $1,500 check from Mike Ascaridis in 2003, whom the governor described as one of his closest friends.  [http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4585992] The check was given two weeks after Ascaridis' wife, Beverly, received a state job at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  Mrs. Ascaridis received this appointment despite having failed a state hiring exam.  [http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4585992] Blagojevich initially asserted that the check was written as a birthday gift to his oldest daughter. He then later said it was a gift for his younger daughter's christening.  [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/05/AR2006100500857.html] U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/05/AR2006100500857.html] and the FBI [http://cbs2chicago.com/politics/local_story_258190341.html] are investigating the matter.
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-1|^]]** [[http://governing.typepad.com/13thfloor/2006/12/not_a_hussein_i.html|Blog entry by]] Josh Goodman of //Governing// magazine.
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-2|^]]** [[http://www.carolfelsenthal.com/PDFs/GovernorSunshine.pdf|Profile on the website]] of biographer [[http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Carol_Felsenthal&action=edit|Carol Felsenthal]].
+
On October 2, 2006, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a company that contributed close to $120,000 to Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial campaign won a no-bid contract. Even though the contract was awarded by the Illinois' Capital Development Board [http://www.cdb.state.il.us/default.shtml], the board still reports to the Governor [http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=local&id=4619388].
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-3|^]]** [[http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=6&did=483|Outline of Death Penalty]] moratorium and reform in Illinois.
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-4|^]]** [[http://www.icadp.org/page297.html|Reprint of]] //Chicago Defender// at the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website.
+
On October 11, 2006, Blagojevich fundraiser [[Antoin Rezko]] was indicted for participation in a scheme to obtain kickbacks from investment firms seeking business from the state teachers' pension system.[http://weather.myfoxchicago.com/weather/charging_documents.pdf][http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-061011rezko,0,6245665.story?coll=chi-news-hed]
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-5|^]]** [[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-060110blago,1,5817650.story?coll=chi-news-hed|Chicago Tribune article on Keno proposals]]
+
Friends of Blagojevich also accepted a $10,000 campaign contribution from the Elevator Constructors Local 2 PAC fund on July 23, 2003. In return the IUEC received several board positions on the Illinois Elevator Safety Board. {{Fact|date=February 2007}} In addition, the governor's wife, Patricia Blagojevich was a business partner of indicted fundraiser [[Antoin Rezko]] for at least a decade.  In 2004, she received over $38,000 in real estate commissions from him.  [http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_292074251.html]
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-6|^]]** [[http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-060213statebudget,1,3673774.story|Chicago Tribune]] article on the withdrawal of the Keno proposal
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-7|^]]** [[http://www.earlylearningillinois.org/|Website for]] Early Learning Illinois
+
In October 2006, it was revealed that Patricia Blagojevich, a licensed real estate broker, earned $113,700 in commissions from Anita and Amrish Mahajan. The amount was the only commissions earned by Patricia Blagojevich this year.  Anita Mahajan owns a urinalysis company that holds a no-bid contract with the state Department of Children and Family Services.  Amrish Mahajan is president of a bank that has two requests pending before state regulators to acquire two out-of-state banks. [http://www.wbbm780.com/pages/115844.php?contentType=4&contentId=230995]
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-8|^]]** [[http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=59392|US Newswire Article]]
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-9|^]]** [[http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=3663008|KWQC story]]
+
On November 27, 2006, a day after the indictment of lawyer Milberg Weiss, "Friends of Blagojevich" returned a $10,000 contribution his campaign received from Milberg Weiss, records show that Blagojevich has not returned another $40,000 from Melvyn Weiss and other lawyers in Weiss' firm. Weiss paid $5,000 toward lodging, meals and entertainment for Blagojevich and others with him during the December 2003 trip to New York. [http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/150442,CST-NWS-pension27.article]
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-10|^]]** [[http://pantagraph.com/articles/2006/03/02/news/doc440716d1465c2131108157.txt|Story in the]] Bloomington Pantagraph
+
 
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-11|^]]** [[http://www.freewillblog.com/index.php/weblog/archives/C13|Criticism of]] Blagojevich
+
In spring, 2007, Blagojevich proposed a $7.6 billion dollar tax increase, with proceeds earmarked to provide universal healthcare in Illinois. The plan, a gross receipts tax on businesses, would have been the largest tax increase in state history. When it became apparent that the plan would be defeated, Blagojevich announced that supporters should vote against it. It was defeated by a vote of 107-0. [http://www.lincolncourier.com/story.asp?SID=5920&SEC=8], [http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010071]
# **[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_R._Blagojevich#_ref-12|^]]** McKinney, Dave. "[[http://www.suntimes.com/business/307829,CST-FIN-Gross22.article|Lieutenant gov breaks ranks on gross receipts tax]]", //[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Sun-Times|Chicago Sun-Times]]//, 2007-03-22. Retrieved on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007|2007]]-[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_25|04-25]].
+
 
* [[http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=4137290&nav=7k7NJ1IJ|Il. Gov. creates Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy]]
+
===Daily Show appearance===
* [[http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=4486|Gov. Blagojevich signs law creating new Illinois Juvenile Justice Department]]
+
 
[[#External_links]]
+
In early-February 2006, Blagojevich appeared on ''The Daily Show'' to discuss his executive order that pharmacists must dispense any drugs for which a customer had a valid prescription, including birth control pills and Levonorgestrel.  This controversial measure was being challenged on the show by state legislator [[Ron Stephens]] from [[Highland, Illinois|Highland]] in the 102nd District [http://www.ronstephens.com/index.htm].  Blagojevich was interviewed by [[Jason Jones (actor)|Jason Jones]] who repeatedly pretended to be unable to pronounce Blagojevich and simply called him "Governor Smith". This prompted Blagojevich to turn to the camera and ask "Is he teasing me or is that legit?"  Two weeks after the interview, Blagojevich admitted that he was unaware of the nature of the show.[http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02/23/illinois.gov.spoof.ap/index.html]
==External links==  
+
 
* [[http://www.illinois.gov/gov/|Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich]] **official state site**
+
===Feud===
* [[http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?si=200614&c=417180|Follow the Money - Rod Blagojevich]] 2006 campaign contributions
+
 
* [[http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/rod_r_blagojevich/index.html|New York Times - Times Topics: Rod Blagojevich]] collected news and commentary
+
A major event of 2005 was Blagojevich's feud with his father-in-law, Richard Mell. The feud went public when Blagojevich shut down a landfill owned by a distant cousin of Patti Blagojevich for environmental problems and it was revealed that Mell had served as an advisor to the cousin. Legislation was eventually passed giving the [[Illinois Environmental Protection Agency]] more authority over landfills and preventing relatives of top Illinois officials from owning landfills.
* [[http://www.ontheissues.org/Rod_Blagojevich.htm|On the Issues - Rod Blagojevich]] issue positions and quotes
+
 
* [[http://www.vote-smart.org/bio.php?can_id=BC031097|Project Vote Smart - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich]] profile
+
Regarding his decision to shut down the landfill despite the fact the landfill was owned by a relative, he said, "This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership.  Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that knowing what's coming your way?  I say I do."  This remark was both ridiculed as an undignified comment for a governor as well as criticized for being sexist. [http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story_138131737.html]
* [[http://www.rodforillinois.com/|Rod Blagojevich for Illinois]] **official campaign site**
+
 
**U.S. Representative 1997-2003**
+
In June, Mell served as honorary co-chairman of an event for state Representative Jack Franks, a longtime Blagojevich critic.
* [[http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=b000518|Biography]] at the //[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biographical_Directory_of_the_United_States_Congress|Biographical Directory of the United States Congress]]//
+
Blagojevich's [[lieutenant governor]] is [[Pat Quinn (politician)|Pat Quinn]], with whom he has had a sour relationship since taking office. Most recently, Quinn and Blagojevich have publicly disputed the latter's proposed "Gross Receipts Tax" to increase revenue for schools and other projects within Illinois.<ref>{{cite news |first=Dave |last=McKinney |title=Lieutenant gov breaks ranks on gross receipts tax |url=http://www.suntimes.com/business/307829,CST-FIN-Gross22.article |work=[[Chicago Sun-Times]] |date=2007-03-22 |accessdate=2007-04-25 }}</ref>
* [[http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/b000518/|Washington Post - Congress Votes Database: Rod Blagojevich]] voting record 1997-2003
+
 
* [[http://herndon1.sdrdc.com/cgi-bin/can_detail/H4IL05031|Federal Election Commission - Rod Blagojevich]] campaign finance reports and data 2001-2002
+
==2006 re-election==
* [[http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.asp?CID=N00004816&cycle=2002|OpenSecrets.org - Rod Blagojevich]] campaign contributions 2002
+
During 2005-2006, he served as Federal Liaison for the [[Democratic Governors Association]]. Numerous scandals brought the Governor's approval rating as low as 36%, with 56% "disapproving" near the end of 2005 [http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=eb952d0f-9d58-4c0f-9933-a9da05b7e78e] The most recent polling has his approval rating at 38% with 59% dissaproving. [http://www.surveyusa.com/client/PollReport.aspx?g=1ef045f0-538c-4989-9806-84a33c9a522b]  
 +
 
 +
By early-2006, five Republicans ran in the primary for the right to challenge him in the general election, with state treasurer [[Judy Baar Topinka]] eventually winning the nomination.
 +
 
 +
Blagojevich formally launched his 2006 re-election campaign for Governor of Illinois on February 19, 2006 [http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0602200172feb20,1,1677391.story]. He defeated challenger [[Edwin Eisendrath]] in the [[Democratic Party (United States)|Democratic Party]] primary election on [[March 21]].
 +
 
 +
On November 7, he was declared winner in the re-election campaign against challengers [[Judy Baar Topinka]] and [[Rich Whitney]].
 +
 
 +
==Trivia==
 +
 
 +
As Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich is entitled to live in the [[Illinois Executive Mansion]], located in the state capital. However, he and his family have opted to remain in Chicago (other governors have also chosen not to reside in the Mansion, usually retaining their residences in other towns). One reason he gave was an unwillingness to move his infant daughter away from home. In the governor's absence, the ''Illinois Times'', a newspaper based in Springfield, held a satirical contest in 2003 for readers to decide how the mansion should be used. Suggestions ranged from using it as a [[hotel]] or homeless shelter to converting it to a "[[brothel|house of ill repute]]." [http://www.illinoistimes.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A2519]
 +
 
 +
==Electoral history==
 +
{{start box}}
 +
|-
 +
| colspan=7 |<center>'''[[United States House of Representatives|U.S. House]], [[Illinois' 5th congressional district|5th District of Illinois]]''' (General Election)</center>
 +
|-
 +
!Year
 +
!Winning Candidate
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
!Opponent
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
|-
 +
|[[United States House elections, 1996|1996]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |Rod Blagojevich
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |[[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |64%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Michael Patrick Flanagan|Michael Flanagan]] (inc.)
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |36%
 +
|-
 +
|[[United States House elections, 1998|1998]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |Rod Blagojevich (inc.)
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |[[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |74%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |Alan Spitz
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |24%
 +
|-
 +
|[[United States House elections, 2000|2000]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |Rod Blagojevich (inc.)
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |[[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |87%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |Matt Beauchamp
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |[[Libertarian Party (United States)|Libertarian]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |13%
 +
{{end box}}
 +
{{start box}}
 +
|-
 +
| colspan=13 |<center>'''[[Governor of Illinois]] '''(General Election)</center>
 +
|-
 +
!Year
 +
!Winning Candidate
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
!Opponent
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
!Opponent
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
!Opponent
 +
!Party
 +
!Pct
 +
|-
 +
|2002
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |Rod Blagojevich
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |[[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |52%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Jim Ryan (politician)|Jim Ryan]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |45%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |Cal Skinner
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |[[Libertarian Party (United States)|Libertarian]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFCC99 |2%
 +
|Marisellis Brown
 +
|Independent
 +
|1%
 +
|-
 +
|2006
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |Rod Blagojevich (inc.)
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |[[Democratic Party (United States)|Democrat]]
 +
|bgcolor=#B3D9FF |49.8%
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Judy Baar Topinka]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |[[Republican Party (United States)|Republican]]
 +
|bgcolor=#FFB3B3 |40.25%
 +
|bgcolor=#99FF99 | [[Rich Whitney]]
 +
|bgcolor=#99FF99 |[[Green Party (United States)|Green]]
 +
|bgcolor=#99FF99 |10.36%
 +
{{end box}}
 +
 
 +
==References==
 +
<div class="references-small"><references /></div>
 +
*[http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=4137290&nav=7k7NJ1IJ Il. Gov. creates Office of New Americans Policy and Advocacy]
 +
*[http://www.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&RecNum=4486 Gov. Blagojevich signs law creating new Illinois Juvenile Justice Department]
 +
 
 +
==External links==
 +
*[http://www.illinois.gov/gov/ Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich] '''official state site'''
 +
*[http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/candidate.phtml?si=200614&c=417180 Follow the Money - Rod Blagojevich] 2006 campaign contributions
 +
*[http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/rod_r_blagojevich/index.html New York Times - Times Topics: Rod Blagojevich] collected news and commentary
 +
*[http://www.ontheissues.org/Rod_Blagojevich.htm On the Issues - Rod Blagojevich] issue positions and quotes
 +
*[http://www.vote-smart.org/bio.php?can_id=BC031097 Project Vote Smart - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich] profile
 +
*[http://www.rodforillinois.com/ Rod Blagojevich for Illinois] '''official campaign site'''
 +
 
 +
'''U.S. Representative 1997-2003'''
 +
*{{Congbio|b000518}}
 +
*[http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/b000518/ Washington Post - Congress Votes Database: Rod Blagojevich] voting record 1997-2003
 +
*[http://herndon1.sdrdc.com/cgi-bin/can_detail/H4IL05031 Federal Election Commission - Rod Blagojevich] campaign finance reports and data 2001-2002
 +
*[http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.asp?CID=N00004816&cycle=2002 OpenSecrets.org - Rod Blagojevich] campaign contributions 2002
 +
 
 +
 
 +
{{start box}}
 +
{{USRepSuccessionBox
 +
| state=Illinois
 +
| district=5
 +
| before=[[Michael P. Flanagan]]
 +
| years=1997-2003
 +
| after=[[Rahm Emanuel]]
 +
}}
 +
{{incumbent succession box|
 +
title=[[Governor of Illinois]]|
 +
before=[[George H. Ryan]]|
 +
start=2003
 +
}}
 +
{{end box}}
 +
{{ILGovernors}}
 +
{{Current U.S. governors}}

Revision as of 15:50, 13 June 2007

Template:Infobox Governor Milorad Blagojevich, commonly known as Rod R. Blagojevich (pronounced IPA: Template:IPA Template:Audio, born December 10, 1956) is an United States American politician from the U.S. state of Illinois. A Democrat, Blagojevich served as a representative of Chicago, Illinois in the United States Congress and was later elected Governor of Illinois, an office he holds today. He is the second Serbian American to be elected governor of any state of the United States (George Voinovich from Ohio was the first).

Blagojevich is married to the former Patricia Mell, daughter of Chicago Alderman Richard Mell. The couple has two daughters, Amy and Anne. Anne was born just months after her father was sworn in as governor. Blagojevich has no middle name, but uses the initial "R." in honor of his late father Radisaz Blagojevich. [1]

Education

Blagojevich was born and raised in Chicago's northwest side in a middle-class family. His father was a former Chetnik who immigrated to the United States and found work as a steel plant laborer.[citation needed] He has an older brother, Robert.[citation needed] Blagojevich spent much of his childhood working odd jobs to help the family survive. He was a shoe shiner and pizza delivery boy before working at a meat packing plant.[citation needed] In order to afford college, Blagojevich worked at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System|Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System as a dishwasher.[citation needed]

He graduated from Chicago's Foreman High School after transferring from Lane Technical College Prep High School. After graduation, he enrolled at the University of Tampa because, with his lackluster grades and an ACT of 18 or 19, he could not get into a more prestigious school.[2] After two years, he transferred to Northwestern University in suburban Evanston, Illinois where he obtained his bachelor's degree in 1979. He attended Pepperdine University law school where he obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence in 1983. Upon his return to Chicago, Blagojevich entered the legal profession in the public sector. He served as Cook County Assistant State's Attorney, prosecuting domestic abuse crimes and felony weapons cases.

Legislator

With the backing of his influential father-in-law, alderman Richard Mell, Blagojevich ran for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and won in 1992. Most of his legislative accomplishments centered on crime and justice issues. He took from his experiences as a prosecutor to pass laws that he argued would strengthen the state's judicial system and cut down on crime.

The Fifth Congressional District, in which Blagojevich lived, had long been represented by powerful Chicago Congressman Daniel Rostenkowski, who served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. However, following his loss in 1994 (Rostenkowski pled guilty to mail fraud), the overwhelmingly Democratic district was represented by Republican Michael Patrick Flanagan.

However, in 1996, Blagojevich defeated Flanagan with support from his father-in-law, and served three terms in the United States House of Representatives. (Following Blagojevich's election as governor, the Fifth District elected former Clinton aide and 1992 financial chief Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel was chosen to head the DCCC for the 2006 election cycle.)

In Congress, Blagojevich continued to champion anti-crime measures, especially gun control legislation. In general, though, he was not known as a particularly active Congressman. Blagojevich was thrust into international prominence in the late 1990s when he traveled with Jesse Jackson to Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia to negotiate the release of American prisoners of war with president Slobodan Milošević.

On October 10, 2002, Rod Blagojevich was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

2002 Gubernatorial election

In 2002, Blagojevich ran for his party's nomination to become governor. Blagojevich won a close primary campaign against former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris, whose base was largely African-American voters, and Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Paul Vallas, who ran strong in the suburban "collar" counties of Chicago. Blagojevich won the primary largely by dominating the downstate Illinois (i.e., outside Chicago and the collar counties) vote.

In the general election, Blagojevich defeated Republican Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan handily (Ryan chose to run for Governor instead of running again for the Attorney General position, which is now held by Lisa Madigan). Ethics scandals had plagued the previous administration of Republican George Ryan (no relation to Jim), and Blagojevich's campaign focused on the theme of "ending business as usual" in state government.

Gubernatorial administration

After the 2002 elections, Democrats had control of the Illinois House, Senate, and all but one statewide office. Since taking office, Blagojevich has signed numerous pieces of progressive legislation such as ethics reform, death penalty reform, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and expansions of health programs like KidCare and FamilyCare. Blagojevich signed a bill in 2005 that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit.

Shortly after taking office in 2003, Blagojevich continued support of a "moratorium" on executions of Death Row inmates, even though no such executions are likely to occur for years (his predecessor, George Ryan, commuted all of the death sentences in the state shortly before leaving office in 2003).[3] This support has continued through his administration.[4]


Other notable actions of his term include a strict new ethics law and a comprehensive death penalty reform bill that was written by now-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (when he was serving as an Illinois State Senator), and the late U.S. Sen. Paul M. Simon.

Despite an annual budget crunch, Blagojevich has overseen an increase in funding for health care and education every year without raising general sales or income taxes. He has, however, been criticized by Republicans and many moderate Democrats for failing to adequately fund the state pension system. On 10 January 2006, Blagojevich announced a proposal for a new three billion (US) Dollar spending plan for Illinois roads, mass transit, and schools, to be paid for by increased tax revenue and new gambling proposals (such as Keno and Lottery games).

[5] The proposal met with immediate opposition by members of the Republican Party in Illinois and many Democrats, who view it as "an election year ploy." The suggestion to legalize Keno within Illinois was later withdrawn.[6]

Another early 2006 proposal included "universal preschool" for all three and four year old children in Illinois. Legislation authorizing the program was adopted as part of the fiscal 2007 budget.[7]

Governor Blagojevich is a long time supporter of gun control. He has tried to raise the price of an Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card from $5.00 to $500.00, saying that such a large increase was necessary so people would think twice about wanting to own a gun.[8] Blagojevich vetoed 3 gun bills in 2005, which would have:

  1. Eliminated the police database of gun purchases
  2. Eliminated the waiting period for someone wanting to buy a rifle or shotgun, when trading in a previously owned weapon
  3. Overridden local laws regulating transport of firearms. [9]

In February 2006, in his "State of the State" address, he talked of the need for a state ban on semi-automatic firearms, prompting threats from several gunmakers in the state to leave. Among these were ArmaLite Inc., Rock River Arms, Les Baer Custom and the legendary Springfield Armory.[10]

Template:Unreferenced The Governor has striven to improve traffic safety. Blagojevich proposed and signed into law a bill that was concerned with making seatbelt enforcement a primary offense (no traffic offense required before being stopped for a seatbelt violation).[citation needed] Another bill signed by the Governor allows the Illinois State Police to operate photo radar on Illinois Tollways in construction zones.[citation needed] He has vetoed a bill that would permit trucks to drive 65 mph instead of the current 55 mph.[citation needed]

Criticism, controversies, and scandal

Governor Blagojevich has been criticized by the Illinois State Rifle Association, saying that "Rod should spend more time catching criminals and less time controlling guns." His support for tightening the gun laws of Illinois has earned him the ire of gun owners groups.

Gov. Blagojevich has been criticized for using what his opponents call "gimmicks" to balance the state budget. Republicans have also claimed that he is simply passing the state's fiscal problems on to future generations by borrowing his way to balanced budgets. Indeed, the 2005 state budget called for paying the bills by shortening a state employees' pension fund by $1.2 billion.

In addition, Blagojevich has been criticized for rapidly expanding the role of Illinois State government, despite current difficulties in funding existing programs.[11]

In May 2003, Blagojevich passed a series of measures aimed at raising revenue from businesses around the state to help balance his budget. Among the new sources were a 10-fold to 20-fold increase to automobile dealer license fees and a measure to make businesses print their own tax forms (and all other state forms). These measures are considered controversial because they caused a greatly increased financial burden on small business without attracting much public attention [1].

In October 2005, the State of Illinois had $1.4 billion in overdue medical bills, yet in November 2005, Blagojevich created two new government agencies and signed the All Kids health insurance bill into law. The bill, criticized as Socialist medicine by its opponents, obligates Illinois to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance to every child in the state.

On December 30, 2005, it was reported that a leasing deal reached for occupants of the remodeled Illinois Tollway oases has come under investigation by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. This is in addition to other investigations in the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Children and Family Services (see [2], [3]). Investigations into other programs related to Illinois' Tollway System, specifically the delivery of I-Pass transponders, have also been announced (see [4]).

Blagojevich issued a controversial executive order in 2004, requiring pharmacists in the state to dispense "morning after" birth control medication, even if they reject on moral or religious grounds. This order was not well received by some pharmacists (see [5],[6]).

In early-2006, after the appointment of Claudette Marie Muhammad, chief of protocol of the Nation of Islam to an Illinois anti-discrimination commission, five other members of this commission resigned. Muhammad has distanced herself from statements made by Louis Farrakhan, and Blagojevich has promised to "oversee meaningful dialogue with leaders of the Jewish, black and gay communities." Despite this, the Anti-Discrimination League has been calling for her removal from the state panel. [7] The resignation or removal of fellow commission member Rick Garcia has also been called for by the Illinois Family Institute, over statements made by Garcia about Francis Cardinal George. [8] Republican candidate for Governor Jim Oberweis echoed the call for Garcia's removal or resignation in an e-mail release as part of his campaign for the Illinois Republican gubernatorial nomination. [9]

On June 30, 2006, it was revealed that state Attorney General Lisa Madigan had received a letter from United States Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, stating that Fitzgerald is looking into "very serious allegations of endemic hiring fraud" in the Blagojevich administration, and thanking Madigan for turning over her office's investigation to the federal authorities.[10][11] Madigan later stated that she could not endorse Blagojevich because of her office's role in the investigation.[12][13]

In September 2006, it was revealed that Blagojevich had accepted a $1,500 check from Mike Ascaridis in 2003, whom the governor described as one of his closest friends. [14] The check was given two weeks after Ascaridis' wife, Beverly, received a state job at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Mrs. Ascaridis received this appointment despite having failed a state hiring exam. [15] Blagojevich initially asserted that the check was written as a birthday gift to his oldest daughter. He then later said it was a gift for his younger daughter's christening. [16] U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald [17] and the FBI [18] are investigating the matter.

On October 2, 2006, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a company that contributed close to $120,000 to Blagojevich's 2002 gubernatorial campaign won a no-bid contract. Even though the contract was awarded by the Illinois' Capital Development Board [19], the board still reports to the Governor [20].

On October 11, 2006, Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin Rezko was indicted for participation in a scheme to obtain kickbacks from investment firms seeking business from the state teachers' pension system.[21][22] Friends of Blagojevich also accepted a $10,000 campaign contribution from the Elevator Constructors Local 2 PAC fund on July 23, 2003. In return the IUEC received several board positions on the Illinois Elevator Safety Board. [citation needed] In addition, the governor's wife, Patricia Blagojevich was a business partner of indicted fundraiser Antoin Rezko for at least a decade. In 2004, she received over $38,000 in real estate commissions from him. [23]

In October 2006, it was revealed that Patricia Blagojevich, a licensed real estate broker, earned $113,700 in commissions from Anita and Amrish Mahajan. The amount was the only commissions earned by Patricia Blagojevich this year. Anita Mahajan owns a urinalysis company that holds a no-bid contract with the state Department of Children and Family Services. Amrish Mahajan is president of a bank that has two requests pending before state regulators to acquire two out-of-state banks. [24]

On November 27, 2006, a day after the indictment of lawyer Milberg Weiss, "Friends of Blagojevich" returned a $10,000 contribution his campaign received from Milberg Weiss, records show that Blagojevich has not returned another $40,000 from Melvyn Weiss and other lawyers in Weiss' firm. Weiss paid $5,000 toward lodging, meals and entertainment for Blagojevich and others with him during the December 2003 trip to New York. [25]

In spring, 2007, Blagojevich proposed a $7.6 billion dollar tax increase, with proceeds earmarked to provide universal healthcare in Illinois. The plan, a gross receipts tax on businesses, would have been the largest tax increase in state history. When it became apparent that the plan would be defeated, Blagojevich announced that supporters should vote against it. It was defeated by a vote of 107-0. [26], [27]

Daily Show appearance

In early-February 2006, Blagojevich appeared on The Daily Show to discuss his executive order that pharmacists must dispense any drugs for which a customer had a valid prescription, including birth control pills and Levonorgestrel. This controversial measure was being challenged on the show by state legislator Ron Stephens from Highland in the 102nd District [28]. Blagojevich was interviewed by Jason Jones who repeatedly pretended to be unable to pronounce Blagojevich and simply called him "Governor Smith". This prompted Blagojevich to turn to the camera and ask "Is he teasing me or is that legit?" Two weeks after the interview, Blagojevich admitted that he was unaware of the nature of the show.[29]

Feud

A major event of 2005 was Blagojevich's feud with his father-in-law, Richard Mell. The feud went public when Blagojevich shut down a landfill owned by a distant cousin of Patti Blagojevich for environmental problems and it was revealed that Mell had served as an advisor to the cousin. Legislation was eventually passed giving the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency more authority over landfills and preventing relatives of top Illinois officials from owning landfills.

Regarding his decision to shut down the landfill despite the fact the landfill was owned by a relative, he said, "This is the kind of thing that I think frankly separates the men from the boys in leadership. Do you have the testicular virility to make a decision like that knowing what's coming your way? I say I do." This remark was both ridiculed as an undignified comment for a governor as well as criticized for being sexist. [30]

In June, Mell served as honorary co-chairman of an event for state Representative Jack Franks, a longtime Blagojevich critic. Blagojevich's lieutenant governor is Pat Quinn, with whom he has had a sour relationship since taking office. Most recently, Quinn and Blagojevich have publicly disputed the latter's proposed "Gross Receipts Tax" to increase revenue for schools and other projects within Illinois.[12]

2006 re-election

During 2005-2006, he served as Federal Liaison for the Democratic Governors Association. Numerous scandals brought the Governor's approval rating as low as 36%, with 56% "disapproving" near the end of 2005 [31] The most recent polling has his approval rating at 38% with 59% dissaproving. [32]

By early-2006, five Republicans ran in the primary for the right to challenge him in the general election, with state treasurer Judy Baar Topinka eventually winning the nomination.

Blagojevich formally launched his 2006 re-election campaign for Governor of Illinois on February 19, 2006 [33]. He defeated challenger Edwin Eisendrath in the Democratic Party primary election on March 21.

On November 7, he was declared winner in the re-election campaign against challengers Judy Baar Topinka and Rich Whitney.

Trivia

As Governor of Illinois, Blagojevich is entitled to live in the Illinois Executive Mansion, located in the state capital. However, he and his family have opted to remain in Chicago (other governors have also chosen not to reside in the Mansion, usually retaining their residences in other towns). One reason he gave was an unwillingness to move his infant daughter away from home. In the governor's absence, the Illinois Times, a newspaper based in Springfield, held a satirical contest in 2003 for readers to decide how the mansion should be used. Suggestions ranged from using it as a hotel or homeless shelter to converting it to a "house of ill repute." [34]

Electoral history

U.S. House, 5th District of Illinois (General Election)
Year Winning Candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
1996 Rod Blagojevich Democrat 64% Michael Flanagan (inc.) Republican 36%
1998 Rod Blagojevich (inc.) Democrat 74% Alan Spitz Republican 24%
2000 Rod Blagojevich (inc.) Democrat 87% Matt Beauchamp Libertarian 13%
Governor of Illinois (General Election)
Year Winning Candidate Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct Opponent Party Pct
2002 Rod Blagojevich Democrat 52% Jim Ryan Republican 45% Cal Skinner Libertarian 2% Marisellis Brown Independent 1%
2006 Rod Blagojevich (inc.) Democrat 49.8% Judy Baar Topinka Republican 40.25% Rich Whitney Green 10.36%

References

  1. Blog entry by Josh Goodman of Governing magazine.
  2. Profile on the website of biographer Carol Felsenthal.
  3. Outline of Death Penalty moratorium and reform in Illinois.
  4. Reprint of Chicago Defender at the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website.
  5. Chicago Tribune article on Keno proposals
  6. Chicago Tribune article on the withdrawal of the Keno proposal
  7. Website for Early Learning Illinois
  8. US Newswire Article
  9. KWQC story
  10. Story in the Bloomington Pantagraph
  11. Criticism of Blagojevich
  12. McKinney, Dave (2007-03-22). "Lieutenant gov breaks ranks on gross receipts tax", Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved on 2007-04-25. 

External links

U.S. Representative 1997-2003


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