“Appropriate” is the term being used to describe the ex-governor’s 14-year prison sentence. It’s not a happy occasion, seeing someone sentenced to prison, but it’s a relief, says Brian Gladstein, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “I think it’s a stiff sentence but I think it’s a sentence that sends a really clear message that the state’s not gonna take any more corruption and politicians taking advantage of the people of the state,” he said.
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But corruption won’t be ended just by the conviction and sentencing of Rod Blagojevich for political corruption, Gladstein says. He says those who are in politics now or who get into it in the future must themselves be honest, and work to enact laws requiring ethical conduct. Politicians reacting to the 14-year sentence say it’ll be that long before Illinois recovers from the damage done by Blagojevich and his associates:
“I take no joy in seeing any father taken from his children and family for an extended period of time. And yet there is no question in my mind that it is the right decision given the extraordinary damage Blagojevich caused our state, and the importance of sending a clear and unmistakable message that corruption will not be tolerated in our government,” said Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican who ran against Blagojevich for governor in 2006.
“The former governor left behind a legacy of disgrace and dysfunction, and his sentencing … represents justice for the people whose trust he abused,” said U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale).
“Blagojevich deserves a lengthy prison sentence. Unfortunately, though, it cannot fix the damage he inflicted on our state over his six years as governor. Blagojevich became governor by promising ethical reform, but from the start, he relentlessly used his position to pursue illegal and morally bankrupt schemes motivated by power and greed. His conduct was disgraceful, and the cost to the state has been devastating. Blagojevich refused to govern responsibly and, instead, put Illinois up for sale. He tarnished the state’s reputation nationally and internationally, and he destroyed the public’s trust in government. May today’s sentence put an end to corruption in the Illinois’ governor’s office,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.
“We cannot rely on a prison sentence to deter corruption. Illinois needs stronger ethics laws to kill pay-to-play politics. It's time we expose conflicts of interest before they cost taxpayers, and clear the way for true public servants to rebuild trust with the public,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon said.