|Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made a point of regularly going to work at his office in Chicago. He has signed legislation and issued pardons. He has sent out press releases about predatory lending and fighting poverty.
But his arrest on federal corruption charges has clearly complicated his work as the state's chief executive and already cost the state some $20 million. The state is facing a potential $2.5 billion budget deficit and the governor doesn't have the same horsepower — or clout — to address the problem that he had just a month ago.
No one in the state capital trusts Blagojevich enough to give him authority to trim the budget on his own, as he requested in November. Any other idea he advances would probably be rejected out of hand. Yet no other official can take the lead.
"Everything just comes to a halt. You have complete paralysis," said House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.
Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was arrested Dec. 9 on charges accusing him of scheming to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing.
The governor has defiantly insisted he's done nothing wrong and that he will not resign. His aides say he is going about business as usual.