CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 07: Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich leaves his home to go to his sentencing hearing December 7, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Federal prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 15 to 20 years in prison for Blagojevich after he was found guilty of 17 public corruption charges. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
As alderman of the 44th Ward from 1971 to 1979, Dick Simpson was never indicted. As a candidate for Congress against Rep. Dan Rostenkowski in 1992 and 1994, Simpson lost both times.
The lesson: honesty will only get you so far in Illinois politics.
Simpson is now a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Maybe that frustrating realization is behind the study he released today, quantifying the fact that Chicago is the most corrupt big city in the United States.
According to Simpson’s research, the U.S. Attorney’s office -- the fourth branch of government in Illinois -- has won 1,531 convictions of hinky politicians since 1976. Statewide, the take is 1,828. However, despite finishing second only to California and New York in raw numbers, Illinois is not the most corrupt state. Louisiana had the most convictions per capita. Last month, Lousiana’s former four-term governor, Edwin Edwards, completed a nine-year prison sentence for racketeering, extortion, etc., etc.
“For a long time — going back at least to the Al Capone era — Chicago and Illinois have been known for high levels of public corruption,” Simpson said at a press conference today. “But now we have the statistics that confirm their dishonorable and notorious reputations. . . . . The two worst crime zones in Illinois are the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield and the City Council Chambers in Chicago.”
The press conference was held in City Hall, not far from one of those crime zones.
This raises a question. No, not “why?” By now, we all know why. No, it raises the question, “Who’s next?”
Ward Room wants to know who you think will be the next Illinois politician indicted by federal prosecutors. The winner will receive all-expenses paid round-trip L fare to the Kluczynski Building, for an exciting day of testimony. It’s a $4.50 value, but you’ll have to kick $1 back to Your Ward Room Blogger.
Give us your prediction in the Comments section.