Breaking news from the Chicago Tribune’s Web site:

Edward Genson, the lead attorney for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, said he intends to withdraw as the governor’s lawyer in the criminal case.

Genson, who has been practicing law for 44 years, made a brief statement to reporters after a hearing this afternoon in federal court, where a judge had just ruled that four undercover recordings of the governor from the criminal investigation could be turned over to the state legislature.

“I never require a client to do what I say,” said Genson, who was accompanied by fellow Blagojevich lawyer Sheldon Sorosky. “But I do require them to at least listen.”

“I wish the governor good luck and Godspeed,” he added.

Asked about the status of the $500,000 that records show he has been paid from Blagojevich campaign funds, Genson said:

“The answer to that is that it’s none of your guys’ business.”

Genson would have to file paperwork to formally withdraw from the case.

It seems Genson doesn’t agree with Blagojevich’s tactic of blitzing the media with “woe as me” whining about not being able to get a fair trial in the Illinois Senate. The embattled governor claims Senate rules don’t allow him to call witnesses to testify on his behalf. Yet the only reason that is true is because Blagojevich ignored deadlines to submit his witness wish list.

In addition to two Chicago radio interviews, Blagojevich pleaded his case today in another ridiculous press conference, during which he made an Old West analogy instead of resorting to poetry as usual. Cowboy Rod said his accusers are “hanging me” so they can raise income and gasoline sales taxes after he is removed from office. Then he amusingly called for newspaper editorial boards to help convince the Senate to allow him to call witnesses during his impeachment trial, which begins Monday. Never mind that Blagojevich doesn’t plan to attend the trial or that he ignored deadlines to submit the names of potential witnesses. The pleading for help from editorial boards is so incredulous because Blagojevich is accused of scheming to get Chicago Tribune editorial board writers fired.

That scheme was among several revealed by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald after the governor’s Dec. 9 arrest. Blagojevich allegedly is heard talking about it on covert FBI recordings of his telephone conversations. He also is accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat (now occupied by Roland Burris) to the highest bidder. I assume these schemes will be heard on the four recordings being released to state legislators for use during the impeachment trial. An FBI special agent also will provide limited testimony against the governor.

So it isn’t surprising to me that Genson finally gave up on Blagojevich. Genson is a high-powered attorney who knows a lost cause when he sees it. He probably also figures to never get all of his attorney fees from the soon-to-be broke Blagojevich family. The governor and his wife, Patti, are racking up so much debt in attorney fees right now, they will need to write an $11 million-advance book to pay it all off.

But Genson shouldn’t think he is out of the filthy Blagojevich bathwater yet. He may think the $500,000 he got from Blagojevich campaign funds is not the media’s business, but he is wrong. Taxpayers deserve to know why he received that money from campaign funds.

Taxpayers also deserve a better governor. We’re ready for the Pat Quinn era to begin. Is it too much to hope the Senate will kick Blagojevich out of office by the end of the month?

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