As the scandal surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich unfolds, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan is hardly a disinterested observer. A potential candidate for governor in 2010, Madigan unsuccessfully sought an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that Blagojevich was unfit to govern. She began an investigation into his administration, but stepped aside in favor of U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald. Here are edited excerpts from an interview with Madigan late last week.
Q Blagojevich contended his GOP challenger, then-Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan, didn't "lift a finger" to fight corruption under George Ryan. What's to prevent Republicans saying that about you?
A If they're saying that, they're being a bit disingenuous . . . and politicizing this. It's well known that we launched an investigation. . . . But since that time of [Fitzgerald's June 2006 letter noting a federal investigation], we have provided them with assistance and information.
Q Were you interested in being appointed the U.S. Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama?
A I've never asked to be considered for the Senate seat. And one of my issues always was with Gov. Blagojevich. . . . If I would get an appointment, he'd be able to appoint the attorney general, and I never had any faith that he would appoint somebody of integrity.
Q After supporting a special election to fill Obama's seat, Democratic leaders in the legislature, including your father [House Speaker Michael Madigan], have yet to change the law that gives the governor the power to make the Senate appointment. Republicans want you to use your influence to push for a special election.
A I have publicly said that they should pass legislation creating a special election. . . . [adding jokingly] You want me to drive them?
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