Blagojevich: “All of us in politics do it”

Blagojevich defense statement before Illinois State Senate indicts culture of corruption caused by Pay-to-Play politics in America

Common Cause calls for “Clean Government for Change” reform package

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s closing argument to Illinois state senators in his impeachment trial today may have fallen flat, but his indictment of the current state of politics in America was heard around the world.

In explaining his pay-to-play statements caught by an FBI wiretap, Blagojevich said, “Those are conversations relating to the things all of us in politics do in order to run campaigns and try to win elections.”

“You guys are in politics,” he implored the senators. “You know what we have to do to go out and run elections.”

“The American people know too, and they want it stopped,” said Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause. “It is time to end pay-to-play politics in America and give people the government they deserve.

“Gov. Blagojevich’s statements provide a clear indictment of the current political system, in which our elected officials raise millions of dollars in campaign cash from special interests at the same time they are supposed to be making decisions in the public interest,” Edgar said.

“I bet there are a lot of members of Congress out there involved in the bailout and stimulus packages who are praying they’re not wiretapped,” Edgar said. “Even good people struggle in the current big-money system, which is rife with conflicts of interest. Blagojevich may be one bad apple, but the barrel itself is rotting.”

Common Cause has called on Congress and state legislatures to enact its Clean Government for Change reform package, which would:

  1. Ban lobbyist contributions, bundling and fundraising for members of Congress and the President;
  2. Adopt Connecticut-style pay-to-play laws at the state level, to ban campaign contributions and fundraising by lobbyists and government contractors;
  3. Create a new campaign finance system that enables candidates who swear off special interest money to run vigorous campaigns on a blend of small private contributions and public funds.