There's corruption in political news again, but for once it doesn't involve Illinois.
Last week, 44 people were arrested in New Jersey as a result of a decade-long corruption investigation. The FBI filled its bus with three mayors, two state lawmakers, several rabbis, and other community leaders and politicians.
Along with bribes and money-laundering, some of the suspects are accused of being involved in an illegal human organ-selling ring. Some of the four dozen arrested took cash payments to find organs for patients in need of transplants.
Can Illinois finally let out a sigh of relief, knowing we are finally no longer the nation's political punchline?
"We have a lot of work," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant. "We've made it a priority to try and have an impact on what has been a historical problem in this state and this city."
"There's a casual acceptance of corruption in Chicago," he continued. "It's significant here, it has always been significant here. I don't just mean politicians. I mean business people. There's a culture in this state that believes the only way to do business is to delve into the corrupt areas."
And state corruption here didn't just affect Illinois. Political fundraisers and ethically-questionable Congress members felt the scrutiny of the national public eye as their ties to President Barack Obama were investigated.
Finally, we have had two consecutive governors under indictment, one of which voluntarily cavorted into the media's lion's den. Making appearances on The View and the Late Show with David Letterman, former governor Blagojevich made himself—and consequently Illinois—the running gag among late-night talk show hosts, Saturday Night Live, and comedy troupe The Second City. He even nearly took part in a reality show!
So no, Illinois, we haven't dug ourselves out just yet. Thanks to Blagojevich's media onslaught, we are more (in)famously corrupt, and "we've remained a national laughingstock," said Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association.
There's no such thing as bad publicity... right?
Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue, doesn't think he would understand politics without corruption.