In his final public statement before going to prison for 14 years, disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Wednesday he took responsibility for his crime but said he still believed he was on the right side of the law.
The decision went against me, Blagojevich said at his Chicago home with his arm around his wife, Patti, Wednesday evening. We are appealing the case. ... This is not over.
The live prime-time television press conference is likely the last time the former Democratic governor will address the Illinois public for more than a decade. At noon on Thursday he is scheduled to head to the low-security Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colo., for trying to auction off Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat, along with other corruption charges.
This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but it is the law and we follow the law, Blagojevich said, thanking his wife for her support and dedication to their family.
Blagojevich also sought to distract from his calamitous downfall with his successes in office, before he was impeached unanimously in January 2009. He highlighted his fight for health care like his All Kids Program for children and free mammograms and pap smears for women.
I got bruised and battered and bloody, he said, insisting he was always dedicated to his causes.
At one point, a crowd holding supportive signs shouted, Free Our Governor, as Blagojevich went on a long-winded speech about he hopes to teach the next generation.
How do you make sense of this and how do you tell your kids? he said. You're supposed to show them how you fight adversity.
According to My Fox Chicago, Blagojevich will report to prison at noon Thursday. Over the course of two trials, he was indicted on 18 corruption-related counts.
Gov. Pat Quinn, Blagojevich's successor, said he thought the state of Illinois was a better place with the former governor in prison.
I think we've enacted strong ethical standards in Illinois that I enforce every day, he told My Fox Chicago. You need an honest governor to help the honest people of Illinois to move forward.