Panel: Blagojevich should be disbarred

SPRINGFIELD - A board that oversees the discipline of attorneys in Illinois recommended Tuesday that former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich be disbarred from the practice of law.

The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission said in an order that Blagojevich "has not acknowledged that his conduct was wrongful or expressed any remorse" and that "his failure to appear for his disciplinary hearing demonstrates a lack of respect for the disciplinary process and the legal profession."

Blagojevich, of Chicago, received his law degree from Pepperdine University in California and was admitted to the practice of law in Illinois in 1984.

A former state lawmaker and member of Congress, he was elected governor in 2002 and again in 2006. But he was impeached and removed from office in January 2009. He was convicted in June 2011 on multiple federal charges of crimes committed while in office including attempt to commit extortion, corrupt solicitation, conspiracy to commit extortion, conspiracy to commit corrupt solicitation, and making false statements to the FBI. Most notable of the charges was the allegation that he attempted to sell an appointment to then-President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.

Blagojevich served eight years of a 14-year federal prison sentence. President Donald Trump commuted his sentence on Feb. 19. Blagojevich has consistently maintained he did nothing wrong.

In October 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court placed Blagojevich on interim suspension from practicing law. That suspension remains in effect. In August 2019, while Blagojevich was still in prison, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission administrator filed a motion for further disciplinary action. The commission held a hearing on that motion Feb. 25, less than a week after Blagojevich had been released from prison.

Blagojevich did not appear at that hearing, but he was represented by counsel.

A commission spokesman said in an email that Blagojevich has 21 days to appeal the finding. If he does, the case would go to a review board. If he does not appeal, however, the report will be sent to the Illinois Supreme Court, which has the final say in whether to revoke his law license.