DECEMBER 18, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that on Thursday, December 18, 2008, Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes will testify before Illinois House Special Investigative Committee considering impeachment of Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL). (Judicial Watch was contacted today to provide testimony at tomorrow’s hearing.)
Judicial Watch for several years has been investigating the corrupt activities of Blagojevich, who is under federal investigation on several fronts. Judicial Watch filed an open records lawsuit against the office of the governor on January 16, 2007, in the Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court seeking, among other documents, any and all grand jury subpoenas received by the Governor’s office or any state agencies under the Governor’s control. The subpoenas reportedly were issued by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s office.
Blagojevich’s office misled Judicial Watch by refusing to release the subpoenas, claiming falsely that they were exempt from public disclosure. The state’s top legal officer, Illinois State Attorney General Lisa Madigan, stated that the grand jury subpoenas are documents subject to public disclosure: "Based upon the information with which we have been furnished, the exceptions to the disclosure requirements of the [Freedom of Information] Act cited by the Governor’s office does not authorize the withholding of subpoenas. Without legal support, the Office of the Governor and the agencies under his control cannot withhold Federal grand jury subpoenas in their possession and must release these documents pursuant to a FOIA request."
Blagojevich then fought to have his office represented by his personal attorney, rather than the State Attorney General.
Judicial Watch filed a motion for default against Blagojevich’s office in this lawsuit last week.
(Judicial Watch is also pursuing two FOIA lawsuits concerning earmarks involving Governor Blagojevich. In addition, Judicial Watch has other Illinois FOIAs pending concerning corruption allegations, including one filed this week over Blagojevich’s apparent efforts to sell Barack Obama’s former Senate seat.)
"Judicial Watch has been investigating Blagojevich for years. His stonewalling of our document requests was an obvious effort to keep the public from knowing the full truth about his corruption. We look forward to providing any information we can to the Special Investigative Committee," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.