The Senate's vote means a constitutional amendment will be placed on
the ballot in November 2010. If it passes, Illinois will adopt a
convoluted mechanism for recalling governors seen as corrupt or
"The very best way to make sure the governor does the
right thing all the time is to have in our constitution the power of
recall," said Gov. Pat Quinn, who took office in January after his
predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, was impeached. "I think we will see
this is the ultimate ethics measure."
Blagojevich was ousted after he was accused of trying to sell or
trade President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat. He has
pleaded not guilty, and his federal trial is set to start in June.
Another former governor and Blagojevich's predecessor, George
Ryan, is serving a six-year prison sentence after he was convicted
in 2006 of federal corruption charges involving a scam to illegally
sell licenses to truck drivers while he was secretary of state.
Two other past governors have also gone to prison in the past
three decades. Otto Kerner, governor from 1961 to 1968, was
convicted of bribery after he left office. Dan Walker, who served
from 1973 to 1977, was convicted on charges related to financial
dealings after he left office.
The recall proposal is narrow and complex.
It wouldn't cover any public official except for governor. The
recall process could not start unless 30 lawmakers -- 15 from each
party -- sign affidavits in support. Proponents would have to
collect hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition. The exact
number would be 15 percent of the votes cast in the previous
election for governor.
If all those conditions were met, a special election would be
held to decide whether a governor is booted out of office. A new
governor would be chosen later in another special election.
[to top of second column]
The Illinois House, after the proposal was narrowed to apply only to
the governor, signed off on the amendment earlier this year as part
of a package of ethics legislation in the wake of Blagojevich's
arrest and removal from office.
The Senate approved it 56-1 on Thursday. Despite the lopsided
vote, several senators expressed concerns.
They warned that special interest groups could back recall
efforts to get rid of a governor who challenged them. They predicted
governors would be more timid about taking action that might be
unpopular but necessary.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said Illinois officials
already fear the shadow of their next election. If a governor faces
the possibility of a recall election, he said, "that shadow is upon
you at all times."
The amendment is
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