Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich spent nearly $1 million defending videogame legislation that had been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

The law would have barred stores from selling violent or sexually-explicit videogames to minors, with fines of $1,000 for violators. In 2005, however, a federal court struck down the law, ruling that it violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Following that, the state government spent almost $1 million in a failed appeal of the decision. A House Committee discovered the actual cost of the appeal last week.

The cost of the appeal is especially egregious both because similar laws in other states have been struck down previously for the same reasons, and because the cash required to fund the appeal ended up being drawn from other programs, including the public health department and the state’s welfare agency. Rep. Jack Franks, chairman of the State Government Committee, said, “We had a strong suspicion that the Governor was using funds appropriated by the General Assembly as his own personal piggy bank.”

“It’s unfortunate that the state of Illinois spent taxpayer money defending this statute,” said David Vite, President of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, one of the groups that sued over the law. “This is precisely what we told them would happen.”

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