SPRINGFIELD, ILL. — An Illinois legislative committee unanimously voted Thursday to recommend that Democratic Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich be impeached based on allegations that he abused his powers and sold his office to enrich himself.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, predicted that the full House would impeach Blagojevich as soon as today, the first such action in state history. If so, his trial would be held in the state Senate, with senators acting as jurors.
A Blagojevich spokesman said the governor would not heed calls to resign before the full House voted. His press office said in a statement that the panel's vote was not a surprise.
"The outcome was a foregone conclusion, especially when you consider the committee released its report hours before wrapping up testimony. The governor believes that the impeachment proceedings were flawed, biased and did not follow the rules of law. . . . In all, the governor's rights to due process were deprived. When the case moves to the actual Senate, an actual judge will preside over the hearings, and the governor believes the outcome will be much different," the statement said.
Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, who stands to become governor if Blagojevich is removed, praised the committee vote.
"I think given the overwhelming evidence, it was pretty clear to anyone that this is what the people of Illinois wanted," Quinn said. "The committee did what the people of Illinois felt was appropriate, and I hope that message gets through to Gov. Blagojevich."
Quinn said Blagojevich should look to history and do the right thing.
"When this happened in 1974 to President Nixon, he voluntarily resigned. I know the governor is a student of history, and now is the time for him to step aside," he said.
The vote by the special House Investigative Committee was 21 to 0.
The committee based its vote on a lengthy report detailing the governor's alleged abuses of power, including that he expanded healthcare without legislative approval, spent state money on useless flu vaccines and refused to release government information to the public.
The list also included allegations of hiring abuses and "pay-to-play" activities, in which big contributors often wound up with hefty state contracts.
In addition, the report restates the federal charges against Blagojevich, including the allegation that he sought to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.