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Goodbye to the second Fitzgerald that tried to clean up Illinois

Goodbye to the second Fitzgerald that tried to clean up Illinois

Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for northern Illinois, announced his resignation today after more than ten years of service to that state. His tenure was remarkable not only for what he accomplished–his prosecutions put away two governors (Blagojevich and Ryan), uncovered political corruption at all levels of Illinois government, went after organized crime and looked for solutions to Chicago’s growing gang problem–but also for how he got there.

He was an outsider–I know because (full disclosure) my former boss Senator Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL, no relation) recruited him for the job, for reasons besides his excellent qualifications. It was, in fact, precisely because he was from New York–an outsider, that Senator Fitzgerald thought he was the perfect man for the job of cleaning up Illinois insider politics. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, whose seat Barack Obama won after Peter decided not to seek reelection, had attempted the same job:

One night in 2001, a Tribune editorial writer thrust a declarative question at U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.: “You’d rather get some corruption-busting prosecutors named U.S. attorneys in Illinois than get re-elected to the Senate.” Fitzgerald didn’t wait for “to the Senate” before he barked, “Absolutely!” At his insistence, President George W. Bush nominated three Justice Department prosecutors — and nobody from the many law firms cozy with politicians here — to be U.S. attorneys in Illinois’ three federal districts.

Peter Fitzgerald had recruited Patrick Fitzgerald, a New Yorker and no relation, for the Chicago post. This September, Patrick Fitzgerald marks 10 years of discomfiting the purveyors of public corruption in this state. His prosecutors have convicted two ex-governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, of felony corruption. He is testament to the need for the U.S. attorney here to be independent of this state’s political class.

The story of how these two Fitzgeralds attempted to clean up Illinois–and together, the two have come the closest to accomplishing that job than any on either side of the aisle–should serve as a reminder to the entrenched political class there. While Indiana and Wisconsin prosper under the bold leadership of some of their courageous politicians, Illinois Republicans leave much to be desired.

Patrick Fitzgerald should be commended by his service to the state; now imagine what could happen if the rest he leaves behind follow his example.


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Isn’t he the guy who crucified Scooter Libby when he knew two weeks into the so-called investigation that Armitage had spilled the beans?

Pardon me while I remain underwhelmed!

    persecutor in reply to persecutor. | May 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    And being originally from Springfield, I have to agree about the Illinois GOP. Nothing happens in that State that Cook County doesn’t approve.

    He was. I am still blown away that Scooter Libby was convicted for arguably misspeaking to a government official when it turns out he was absolutely not the person they were looking for in the underlying case (that turned out to be Colin Powell’s guy Richard Armitage who was never charged) and the evidence of misspeaking was not clear perjury. The lesson here is if a government agent comes to speak to you: You tell them to pound sand you want your attorney. Never cooperate. Never speak to them. It is not worth it. It is a law ripe for abuse. And the ultimate effect of this is people learning to shut up and never cooperate.

    And Patrick Fitzgerald did not have to do that to Libby. He was so full of his authority as an U.S. Attorney that he did so.

      Lina Inverse in reply to EBL. | May 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      But in this case he was a government official and didn’t have any choice if he wanted to keep his position. Given how freely the Left has used political prosecutions starting with the Reagan administration not talking is not an option.

      And even then, it’s been said that Bush’s refusal to pardon him (just commuted his sentence) was due to his insufficiently cooperating with the investigation, something that Cheney is very unhappy about. It’s a strange exception to G. W. Bush’s excessive loyalty to subordinates.

    WarEagle82 in reply to persecutor. | May 23, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Same thing I thought about. This guy PERSECUTED Scooter Libby while he knew the real source of the information…

    Good riddance!

    Juba Doobai! in reply to persecutor. | May 24, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Exactly so! Fitzgerald is despicable. He’s as corrupt as Illinois. What was he trying to prove with Scooter Libby? That he could piss higher? Fitzgerald’s a symbol of what’s wrong with the practice of law in America.

Yeah…a HIGHLY mixed record…seems to me.

Midwest Rhino | May 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I’m “downstate” Illinois … always kinda guessed our various governors got thrown under the bus by the Chicago machine. Can’t have governors getting out of line. But I’m rather cynical about law and order in Illinois.

Would love to see his notes on Tony Rezko and Obama!

bob aka either orr | May 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I, too, share some of the mixed feelings about Fitzgerald re: Rezko and especially Libby. He took apart a good man in Libby and let Obama slide on the Rezko connections. In balance, a grade of “fair” is appropriate.

I must say I”m shocked to hear such praise for the man who protected Obama (by way of not calling Tony Rezko to trial on the indictment of Blago AND by ignoring testimony DIRECTLY implicating Obama on at least 1 inquiry).

I’d be happy to set up an interview for the Prof with someone who presented evidence to Fitzgerald and was summarily ignored.

Also – don’t forget he alone allowed City Councilman Eddie Burke to skate MULTIPLE times on clear cases of fraud – including where his own wife fixed his court cases as a member of the Illinois Judiciary.

Charles Curran | May 23, 2012 at 7:15 pm

What he and his office did to Lord Black should get him hung by his nuts. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 against him. Black served 42 months.

    Milhouse in reply to Charles Curran. | May 24, 2012 at 5:02 am

    True that. Black did absolutely nothing wrong, but Fitzgerald saw the opportunity to aggrandise himself by making up a brand new legal theory that made Black’s conduct retroactively criminal. He’s as bad as Giuliani, another person I don’t understand how Republicans can like.

SmokeVanThorn | May 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Like many prosecutors, perfectly willing to abuse his power to advance his “reputation.” Good riddance.

    That is exactly right. BTW, so is he retiring to some island or is he putting out feelers for a nice job at a major law firm.

    Trust me, they will remember he went to bat for Obama and put the screws to Bush.

      great unknown in reply to EBL. | May 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      Probably get a nomination to the federal bench or become a partner at a politically-connected major firm in Chicago.

Patrick Fitzgerald investigated Acorn, Rezko and Blago but could not put together that a common thread in all his convictions was a man called Barry Soetoro, aka Barack Obama.

Seems to me that Fitzgerald effectively shielded Obama from prosecution. Lots of questions about Obama, not a single squeak about him from our federal prosecutor. It was not even necessary to interview the president who has been intricately involved with all three cases.

What Patrick Fitzgerald understood most of all was “The Chicago Way.”

After the Scooter Libby and the Tony Rezko cases, all I can think is what a jerk Fitzgerald is. Good riddance.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Is this the same guy that went after Sen Stevens – R /Alaska. That was timed nicely to put him out of the 08 race .

Whatever he did & was later exonerated by the case being dropped iirc it was not nearly corrupt as Murkowski jr.

If this is the same guy -expect him to turn up in a nice Democrat law firm r a federal dstrict that is too red for Washington’s liking.

It would not be the first time that a ‘corruption zealot ‘ was in fact corrupt.

I wonder what Palin thinks /knows.

    No, he had nothing to do with the Stevens fiasco. Why would he? What did Stevens have to do with Illinois? No, Stevens was set up by a career DOJ prosecutor who decided to help her party by removing a Republican senator.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 23, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Of course the canny old guy getting done in a remote plane crash adds to the drama. Plenty of time to sneak in & plant /extract evidence.

There is a movie in all this. My conspiracy movie idea might stink if it was a different prosecutor. I should look it up but I would be sidelined by Blago’s hair. I also don’t think that case rung true.

NC Mountain Girl | May 24, 2012 at 12:00 am

Peter was a good guy. Patrick turned out to be a huge disappointment for all the reasons listed above.

Patrick Fitzgerald specialized in mendacious prosecutions of men of greater character and intelligence than himself. Besides the aforementioned prosecution of Scooter Libby on false charges, he also exploited the unconstitutional (in its application) “honest services” statute to target the great newspaper publisher Conrad Black on entirely spurious charges. Most counts of that prosecution were gutted by the Supreme Court, or rejected by the jury. The guy also delighted in making false, defamatory statements about his targets in press conferences, outside the scope of the formal criminal complaint.

The Left/MSM loved the guy because his targets were usually on the Right, but that that crowd never cared about justice when a political opponent was in the dock. The lionization of Fitzgerald is disgusting; it’s not not a mark of intelligence or character to wave around a gun – or to fire that gun – against legally disarmed victims. We should not pretend that Fitzgerald is anything other than the lowlife piece of crap that he is.

BannedbytheGuardian | May 24, 2012 at 2:26 am

Yes it is the same guy. I note that in March 2012 a court appointed special investigation of the Ted Stevens case found “Astonishing Misconduct” on the prosecution of Ted Stevens.

The Justice Department replied that this was a rare occurrence. Huh ? How does this matter -an astonishing misconduct is still an astonishing misconduct.

Whatever his other merits ae Conrad Black Tony Rezko & Ted Stevens are 3 high profile fails .
In US Law the bar for successful prosecutors is rather low.He wold never get a gig on Law & Order.

    No, it is not the same guy. Fitzgerald’s behaviour in the Libby and Black cases is shameful, but he had no connection with the Stevens case. Alaska is not in Illinois.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Milhouse. | May 24, 2012 at 7:18 am

      You are right about the Stevens case which is /was often mentioned alongside the Blago /Rezko cases & led me to connect them too closely..

      However I doubt a Hot prosecutor in favor of both sides was completely out of going after a 40 year Senator in an election year. (He was brought back over to get Scooter Libby -a much lesser figure ).

      In the blago trial I note he did not go after Mrs Blago for selling the Obamas the heritage house & arranging to excise the strip of land. too close to home?

        1. You seem to have a serious misconception about how the US Attorney system works. Fitzgerald only had jurisdiction in Illinois. There was no way he could possibly be involved in the Stevens prosecution, which was an Alaska case. The Plame investigation was not a local case; because it involved the administration the AG had to appoint an outside prosecutor to run it, and he assigned Fitzgerald.

        2. You mean Mrs Rezko, not Mrs Blago.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. He should get on his knees and apologise to Scooter Libby.

(reading comments) Ahh, feel the love 🙂

Another more accurate view of Mr. Fitzgerald’s perpetration of injustice –