The bane of the corrupt powerful and the well-connected, Illinois U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald has announced he is stepping down from his post next month after almost eleven years. There is some speculation he may be interested in a political career.
Son of County Clare parents, Fitzgerald served as the top prosecutor in Northern Illinois where he successfully secured a spectacular list of convictions including former governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, media baron Conrad Black, insurance broker Mickey Segal, the notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, several top Chicago organized crime figures, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, and a number of top aides to former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
According to CBS, Fitzgerald, who has scrupulously maintained a bipartisan reputation, sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday announcing he would step down on June 30.
Announcing his decision to the press Fitzgerald said that people often thank him for his work as U.S. Attorney, but he said the prosecutors in his office and agents at various federal law enforcement agencies deserve the credit.
'I’ve always felt very uncomfortable about people thanking me for the things I do,' Fitzgerald explained. 'I’ve actually been in the shower and heard someone on the radio say the U.S. Attorney did something today, and I had no idea I had done that, because other people had done it. When I’ve had the chance, I’ve tried to explain to people that I don’t do the work, other people do the work.'
Fitzgerald also took the opportunity to offer some piece of advice for whoever is chosen as his successor. 'Treasure the great people that are in the office. A large part of the job is to step back, try not to get in the way, and let people do their jobs.'
'Am I rushing out in the eleventh year of my four-year term?' he joked. 'That sort of tells you something. I’ve been squatting for seven years. But people have terms for a reason.'
'I love public service, I don’t know what I’m doing next, but public service is in my blood, and I’d like to find a way to balance public service in whatever I do next and my family obligations,' Fitzgerald added.
'I know I’m 51. I’m not going to be here until I’m 65. It’s important that there be change. I think it’s healthy at a certain point for there to be change at the top.'
Fitzgerald added that he has not yet decided what he will do next.
'I think it’s good for me to not worry about what I’m doing next. I also think it’ll be healthy for me to decompress and sort things out this summer.' He is married with two children.