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Political indictments

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday, charged in a wide-ranging corruption case that included allegations he sought money or favors in return for filling the Senate vacancy created by Barack Obama’s election to the White House.

The indictment was issued by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who held a news conference to explain the charges and to field questions about the details. “We were in the middle of a corruption crime spree and we wanted to stop it,” Mr. Fitzgerald said Tuesday, calling the allegations against Mr. Blagojevich “a truly new low.”

Contrast Mr. Fitzgerald’s open approach with the path taken by the Nevada attorney general last week.

On Dec. 3, a grand jury indicted Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki on four felony charges stemming from his handling of a $3.3 billion college saving program while he was state treasurer in the early 2000s.

The indictment was sought by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. It contained few specifics and left hanging the issues of how Mr. Krolicki benefited or what might have been his motivation.

The charges require that criminal intent be involved, but Ms. Cortez Masto held no press briefings and offered few details, prefering instead to let a deputy attorney general answer a handful of questions.

Meanwhile, Mr. Krolicki — who adamantly maintains his innocence — is due to appear in court next week.

We don’t know whether Mr. Krolicki is innocent or guilty. We don’t know if Illinois Gov. Blagojevich did what is charged.

But Mr. Fitzgerald owed the people of Illinois a detailed account of why he proceeded the way he did against their governor. He stepped up and provided it.

It’s a lesson Ms. Cortez Masto should heed.

 

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