Blagojevich wants Supreme Court guidance on corruption. So do I.

I have no particular desire to see former Gov. Rod Blagojevich released early from his 14-year prison sentence. And despite claims about bias by U.S. District Judge James Zagel, as someone who testified in both of Blagojevich’s corruption trials I found Zagel to be consistently fair, objective and reasonable.

Nineteen Illinois politicians signed a letter asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review Blagojevich’s case — and while I don’t see Rod’s fate as an especially valuable use of the court’s time, I do agree that virtually everyone working at high levels of government and politics across the nation could use clearer guidance as to what is legal and what isn’t.

The petitioners argue that the court needs to “distinguish the lawful solicitation and donation of campaign contributions from criminal violations of federal extortion, bribery and fraud laws.”

They have a point. For as long as politicians are allowed to freely solicit money for their political campaigns, there is always going to be an intersection of campaign donations, taxpayer funds and government spending. Giving elected officials, their government staff, their campaign staff and donors abundantly clear rules and guidance can only help reduce corruption, change the social norms around pay-to-play politics (especially in Illinois, where it’s still seen as a cost of doing business), and give the taxpayers far more confidence that the system is corruption-free.

Bill de Blasio spent much of his first term under federal and local investigation for alleged corruption, almost all of it stemming from allegedly providing favors, benefits, grants, jobs and contracts to donors. When it came time for de Blasio’s re-election, viable competitors were stuck on the sidelines, waiting for the outcome from the offices of the U.S. attorney and the Manhattan district attorney.

In February, both prosecutors issued an unprecedented statement saying they believed de Blasio and his team violated the letter and spirit of the law, but they lacked enough evidence to bring charges. That’s fine — the prosecutors were just doing their jobs the best they could.

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