Rod Blagojevich shouldn’t be trusted in a court of law, according to the state’s disciplinary agency for lawyers — and the disgraced ex-governor agrees.
While the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission says it’s his outsized criminal record that should prohibit him from practicing law, Blagojevich says it’s simply a matter of being out of practice at a profession he left behind almost three decades ago.
The agency noted Blagojevich’s “egregious misconduct” in announcing its recommendation for disbarment to the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday, saying the freshly sprung former governor was aware of his “obligation to uphold the law” when he committed a host of felonies while in office.
“Instead of doing so, he sought to further his own interests by engaging in a pattern of dishonest and deceptive conduct,” a commission panel wrote in its decision.
Blagojevich has 21 days to appeal the recommendation before the panel submits it to the state Supreme Court, which has the final say on yanking his law license.
But the former amateur boxer won’t put up a fight.
“I haven’t practiced law since 1995,” he said in a statement through adviser Mark Vargas. “Imagine yourself sitting on a plane and then the pilot announces before takeoff that he hasn’t flown in 25 years. Wouldn’t you want to get off that plane? I don’t want to hurt anybody.”
Blagojevich previously signaled his indifference to losing his license when he didn’t show up to his disciplinary hearing last week. Attorney Sheldon Sorosky relayed then that the ex-governor maintained his innocence but “does not wish to engage in a contested hearing.”
In a recommendation issued just a week after that hearing, the agency took Blagojevich’s absence as showing “a lack of respect for the disciplinary process and the legal profession,” and the panel slammed the fact he “has not acknowledged that his conduct was wrongful or expressed any remorse.”
During the hearing, an ARDC lawyer ticked off the Northwest Side Democrat’s laundry list of crimes, including auctioning Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat, shaking down a children’s hospital CEO and racetrack owner for campaign contributions, and lying to FBI agents investigating the case.
Blagojevich was an assistant Cook County prosecutor until he was first elected state representative in 1992. His law license has been suspended on an interim basis since his corruption trial in 2011, but the agency moved to permanently disbar him last summer as talk of a commutation from President Donald Trump gained steam.
Now back home with his family in Chicago, Blagojevich has to find a job within two months of his Feb. 19 commutation, under the terms of his original 14-year prison sentence.
In the meantime, he made his entry into the “gig” economy last week, selling personalized videos online at $100 a pop.