Greeted by the media, neighbors and supporters, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich spoke publicly Wednesday evening in front of his house in Chicago. Today, he reports to prison in Colorado to serve a 14-year sentence for political corruption.
With wife Patti at his side, the ex-governor said what lies ahead for him will be rough, but as has been his forte, he put a positive spin on it. “I am proud as I leave and enter the next part of what is a dark and hard journey that I can take with me the sense of accomplishment and a real belief that the things that I did as governor and the things that I did as congressman have actually helped real ordinary people,” Blagojevich said during comments that lasted 12½ minutes.
Full Blago speech
Blagojevich also admitted that sometimes he should have been more humble. “When I became governor I fought a lot and maybe I fought too much and maybe one of the lessons to this whole story is that you gotta be maybe a little bit more humble,” Blagojevich said. “You can never have enough humility and maybe I could’ve had more of that.” The former governor went on to tout his accomplishments, including the All Kids program and breast and cervical screening programs and free transit rides for senior citizens.
“And I never raised the income tax on the people,” Blagojevich said. “We fought the special interests to make sure that what we did for the people we didn’t do on your backs but we took on the special interests and the lobbyists and I take that with me during this next journey feeling that that made some of being governor worthwhile to me.”
Blagojevich says he has high hopes for his appeal and maintains his innocence. “I told the judge back in December that I certainly made my share of mistakes,” Blagojevich said. “I take responsibility and am responsible, I told him, for the things that I said. The things that I talked about doing, the political talk about how to raise campaign funds, the things that we believed were political horse trades and legal. I take responsibility for saying those things and as I told the judge back in December everything I talked about doing when it came to campaign fundraising and political horse trading I believe is on the right side of the law. The decision went against me. I am responsible for the things I’ve said. I accept that decision, as hard as it is, and the law as it stands right now is that I have to go do what I have to go do and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it is the law and we follow the law.”