Cook County a "Dark Pool of Political Corruption"

New study provides insight into 141+ years of political hijinks

Friday, Feb 19, 2010  |  Updated 6:03 PM CDT
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A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago says the nation's second largest county has been a "dark pool of political corruption" for more than a century.

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Cook County has been a "dark pool of political corruption" for more than a century, a new study by the University of Illinois at Chicago says.

Nearly 150 employees, politicians and contractors in the nation's second-largest county have been convicted on corruption charges since 1957, according to a report released Thursday by the university and the Better Government Association (.pdf)

The 33-page study gives a history of corruption, starting from 1869 when county commissioners were jailed for rigging a bid to paint City Hall. It also details hiring scandals, including some under Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Stroger hasn't been charged with any crime.

In the last 36 years, 31 sitting or former Chicago alderman have been convicted of corruption or other crimes.  The last was Ike Carothers (29th), who earlier this month plead guilty to charges he accepted gifts in exchange for his votes on zoning issues.

The study says reforms could turn things around, including stricter campaign finance laws and amending a county ethics ordinance.

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