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State, Federal Lawmakers Urge Illinois Governor to Step Aside


State and federal lawmakers say they are outraged by the alleged misconduct of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and some are calling for him to step down.

The Illinois governor was arrested Tuesday on charges he used the power of his office to solicit bribes and favors in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said Tuesday the governor has "clearly abused the public trust." Durbin, the number-two Democrat in the U.S. Senate, also says the Illinois state legislature should order a special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama.

Normally in Illinois, the responsibility of naming a Senate replacement falls to the governor, but Durbin says under the current circumstances, no appointment by Governor Blagojevich could produce "a credible replacement."

Many Illinois state and local officials are calling for the governor to resign. And some say if he refuses to step down, he should be impeached.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called the scandal a "sad day," saying the selection of the state's next U.S. senator is "vitally important to the future of this state and of this country."

Other officials also say they are dismayed by the scope of the allegations.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who filed the charges against Governor Blagojevich called the charges "staggering."

And the Federal Bureau of Investigation official in charge of the case says even his most cynical agents were shocked by the allegations. Special Agent Robert Grant says the case shows that if Illinois is not one of the most corrupt states in the U.S., "it certainly is one hell of a competitor."

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