Supreme Court declines to hear Rod Blagojevich’s appeal

April 16, 2018 GMT

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Monday, leaving in place his corruption conviction and declining to settle an ongoing disagreement among courts over what it takes to prove corruption.

Blagojevich was convicted of selling the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama upon his ascent to the White House.

The court allowed the conviction based on implied promises he made, in exchange for campaign donations. But Blagojevich says the government should have to prove there was an “explicit promise or undertaking” in exchange for the contributions.


About half of the federal circuit courts require that explicit connection, but the others do not.

Blagojevich had wanted the Supreme Court to weigh in and settle the matter nationwide, making clear what lines politicians can and cannot cross. The justices declined to do so Monday without comment.

The former Illinois governor was arrested in 2008 and is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. He is expected to be released in 2024.

His case was followed a few years later by the prosecution of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, who were charged with receiving illegal gifts, trips and money from a businessman. The Supreme Court, though, later vacated the conviction, saying the term “official act” was too broadly worded in the statute.

And Sen. Bob Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, was found not guilty last year after being charged with accepting more than $600,000 in exchange for political acts in another high-profile anti-corruption case.