(WGN-AM) - The Illinois Senate gave final approval to a measure prompted by impeached and ousted former Governor Rod Blagojevich's attempts to profit on the notoriety surrounding his arrest and indictment on federal corruption charges.
On a 59-0 tally, the Senate sent a measure to Blagojevich's successor, Governor Pat Quinn, which would allow the Illinois attorney general to bring a forfeiture action against an elected official who violates state or federal corruption laws. Despite the unanimous vote, some lawmakers have raised concerns about whether the legislation is constitutional.
NBC's Today show to tout the former first lady's participation in the Costa Rican jungle Z-list reality show competition "I'm a Celebrity
Get Me Out of Here." The former governor, who also has a book deal, also said he will play a role in the show---though he was banned by a federal judge from leaving the country and fully taking part.
The legislation would not affect Blagojevich at this point because has not been convicted of corruption and a criminal trial remains far off.
Blagojevich was arrested December 9 and later indicted on federal corruption charges where prosecutors accused of him of trying to turn his governor's office into a personal profit center, including attempts to sell the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated when he became president. Those attempts allegedly included a desire to find a high-paying job for Patti Blagojevich. She also was featured profanity-laced covert recordings obtained by federal agents, though she was not charged with any wrongdoing.
On the Illinois Senate floor, state Senator Dale Righter (R-Charleston) told the sponsor of the profiteering measure, Senator Terry Link (D- Waukegan), that there was "a bit of a gap in the bill" because the attorney general could not bring a forfeiture action against the spouse of a convicted elected official.
"The notoriety that has been gained is because of those misdeeds and the individual is still going to see money going into the family checking account," Righter said.
Link acknowledged that some lawmakers had constitutional reservations about the bill, but said the measure was needed to "make sure no official ever profits from any misconduct in the state of Illinois."
Blagojevich's public relations firm put out a statement this afternoon calling the legislation "patently unconstitutional."
"There are legions of First Amendment attorneys all over America who can't wait to jump on this. Passing a vindictive law like this makes you wonder what those people in Springfield don't want the people to know," the statement read.
(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report)
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