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Political Corruption In Illinois Essay

4123 words - 16 pages

Dirty politics, scandal, lies, corruption, greed - when you hear these words do Illinois politics come to mind? "If it [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor," "Robert Grant, special agent for the FBI said after hearing about the Governor Rod Blagojevich scandal" (Suddath 1). "For as long as there has been politics in Illinois, there has been political corruption dating as far back as the early nineteenth century" (Brunker 1). As reported by CBS News, Chicago reporter John Drummond summarizes corruption in Illinois "as common as frost in January" (Greenfield). The corruption has come in many forms and involved many people including governors, mayors, aldermen, city officials and police, and it has cost the taxpayers millions" (Fornek 1). Illinois is certainly not the only state with political problems, but it seems to always be in the forefront. The Illinois government's reputation of vast corruption is justified.Political corruption can simply be defined as "the use of improper political influence for private gain" (Merriner xii). A more multifarious definition according to the Anti-Corruption Resource Centre is "with reference to the main actors involved, namely persons at the highest levels of the political system, and the purpose of the corrupt behavior, namely to sustain the hold on power" (Fontana 2). Political corruption involves a wide range of crimes and illicit acts committed by political leaders before, during and after leaving office. There is also another side to political corruption that must be addressed; the bribes paid to politicians. Political corruption is an obstacle to simplicity in public life. In established democracies, "the loss of faith in politics and lack of trust in politicians and parties challenges democratic values, a trend that has deepened with the increased exposure of corruption in the past decade" ("Cost of Corruption" 3). In transition and developing states, political corruption threatens the vulnerability of democracy, especially in Illinois (Fontana 2).Corruption has been seen as normal and nothing unusual in Illinois dating back to the 19th century. On average, more than two elected officials have been convicted of crimes in Illinois each year since 1972 and at least 79 current or former Illinois, Chicago or Cook County elected officials have been found guilty by judges, juries or their own pleas though no one has kept a close comprehensive list (Brunker 1). This however, does not even include suburban politicians, appointed officials or purely political types (Fornek 1). According to Brunker, since 1972 four governors, two statewide officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, two mayors, three other citywide officials, 27 aldermen, 19 Cook County judges, and seven other Cook County officials have been guilty of a crime (1). Because so many alderman have gone to jail in the past, at the end of 1991 when no one was convicted or indicted,...

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