Ed Genson, an attorney for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich argues during a House Impeachment Committee Hearing at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
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SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants taxpayers to pay for the high-profile defense lawyer he hired to represent him in state lawmakers impeachment proceedings.
His lawyer, Edward Genson, filed that request with the impeachment panel investigating the governor and with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The request is to have Madigan, the state's top lawyer, authorize his defense of the governor, which would mean taxpayers would foot the tab.
Currently the governor is on his own to pay his legal bills.
The impeachment panel rejected the request. Chairwoman Barbara Flynn Currie said the members have no authority to do so and suggested he contact the attorney general.
Genson said he'd already done so. A spokeswoman for the attorney general said there'd be a response by tomorrow at the latest.
Genson also tried to delay the investigation, get members kicked off the impeachment committee and accused lawmakers of engaging in "illegal" proceedings. Specifically, Genson said he'd been given little information or notice about the hearing, that several members, including Marengo Democrat Jack Franks, had already made up their minds about impeachment, and that the documents being used to make the case would never be allowed in a court of law.
Those requests were also denied. Currie, the impeachment chairwoman, reminded Genson that the Illinois House panel is not a court of law.
Impeachment powers are granted to lawmakers by the state constitution, which offers little guidance on how to go about doing it. All that's needed to send an impeachment case to the Illinois Senate for a trial is for 60 House members to vote to do so. There's no specific burden of proof to be met.
How the impeachment hearing works is solely up to lawmakers.
Wednesday's ongoing impeachment investigation, which can be watched at www.ilga.gov, is focusing on last week's arrest of the governor and the federal documents submitted to support it. The allegations are being read to members regarding how the governor tried to get Chicago Tribune writers fired in exchange for state help selling Wrigley Field.
Members are also going to be walked through allegations that Blagojevich tried to auction off President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat for financial gain and shakedown state vendors and a children's hospital for a campaign donations. Plea deals linked to the governor are also likely to be reviewed today.
Of note, the committee's attorney is using "bleeping" rather than the profanity the governor is said to have been caught on tape using numerous times in the federal documents.