President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday called for Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois to resign, a day after the arrest of Blagojevich on corruption charges.
“The president-elect agree with [Illinois] Lt. Governor [Pat] Quinn and many others in the current circumstances it is difficult for the governor to effectively do their job and serve the people of Illinois,” said Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.
FBI agents arrested on Tuesday, Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, on federal charges of corruption related in part to the selection of a successor to Obama to the Senate.
Obama for the former partner in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, has also urged Blagojevich to resign immediately.
“Beyond the guilt or innocence, the charges against you are raising serious doubts about his ability to carry out his duties as chief executive of our state,” Durbin wrote in a letter sent to Blagojevich.
Durbin also asked Blagojevich did not appoint a successor to Obama.
“Due to the nature of the charges against you, no matter who you were going to select, that would be under a cloud of suspicion. This does not serve our state, our nation or the United States Senate,” Durbin wrote.
Even if Blagojevich appointed a replacement for Obama, it is unclear whether the Senate would be the headquarters of the governor election. The Constitution gives the Senate the sole authority to decide who is qualified to serve as a senator.
Gibbs said Obama also supported legislation that lawmakers of Illinois will consider next week to authorize a special election to elect his successor.
Obama believes that legislators should “put in motion a process to select a new senator who will have the confidence and trust of the people of Illinois,” said Gibbs.
The Illinois Legislature will begin a special session Monday to consider legislation that would authorize a special election to elect the successor to Obama.
Cindy Davidsmeyer, a spokesman for Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, told a House committee was scheduled to consider the bill on Monday afternoon, and then the full House will vote later.
The Senate could consider the legislation as soon as the next day, Davidsmeyer said.
Obama on Tuesday refused to comment on the arrest, saying: “Like the rest of the people of Illinois I am saddened and sovereignty by the news that came out of the U.S. attorney in the office.”
Obama also said he had no contact with Blagojevich about his possible successor, adding, “I was not aware of what was happening.”
However, Obama adviser David Axelrod, told a television station in Chicago in November that Obama had spoken with the governor about his successor.
Axelrod corrected himself Tuesday, saying that the president-elect Blagojevich and “not after, or at any time to discuss the issue.”