James Madison wrote, “all men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” In Illinois, our leaders have broken the trust of the people and we must hold them accountable and remain vigilant in order to prevent future abuses.
Illinois’ legacy of corruption dates back to the 1860’s when “pay to play” was introduced in Chicago. City aldermen and Cook County commissioners participated in a crooked contract to paint city hall. In 1909, the “Blond Boss” used bribery to purchase one of the US Senate seats in Illinois. Corruption did not stop there. Since then, six governors have been indicted, and four governors have been convicted of public corruption. Over the last forty years, more than 1500 individuals have been convicted in Illinois of various forms of public corruption.
Illinois’ culture of corruption recently hit the national stage when our 40th Governor, Rod Blagojevich, was indicted on corruption charges for attempting to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat. After Blago’s arrest, the FBI Special Agent in charge of the Blagojevich investigation, Robert Grant, said, “If Illinois is not the most corrupt state, it certainly is one hell of a competitor.”
The fallout from these scandals does not stop with our reputation as being the most corrupt state in the country – it is costing Illinois taxpayers millions each year. Researchers estimate that the “corruption tax” in Illinois is at least $500 million per year. This is based upon testimony before the Illinois Reform Commission that about 5% of state government contracts are given out to political cronies and campaign contributors. These estimates do not take into account the impact on job creation and economic growth caused by our reputation for cronyism and corruption, which discourages new business.
Ending public corruption is the first step in reestablishing trust and working toward an efficient and effective government. While media, think tanks, activists and advocacy groups focus their attention on Washington, the citizens of Illinois are left feeling as if they cannot fight city hall and that they are at the mercy of the political machines content on managing and profiting from the state’s demise. A recent Joyce Foundation public opinion poll shows more than 60% of Illinois residents name corruption as one of their top concerns – even more than the economy or jobs.
But there is hope. And there is help. For the Good of Illinois’ is working to dismantle the Illinois establishment by engaging, educating and empowering citizens to demand limited, accountable and transparent government.
- Shine the light on government by instituting statewide transparency on all public sector contracting, spending (including salaries and benefits), voting and public records.
- Enact strict ethics reform by ending conflicts of interest and nepotism, requiring personal finance disclosure for elected and appointed officials, restricting “gifts” from lobbyists, and increasing whistleblower protection.
- Reform campaign finance by requiring real time reporting for campaign contributions and restricting public sector contributions.
- Shift the balance of power from politicians to citizens by enacting term limits, empowering citizens to recall elected officials, and ending gerrymandering of legislative districts.
- Engage citizens in the political and legislative process at all levels of state and local government.
Fund-raiser: Jesse Jackson Jr. behind $6M Senate-seat scheme
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities.
McHenry County state's attorney indicted
Misconduct allegations that fueled a bitter election two years ago in McHenry County resurfaced Friday when the sitting state's attorney was charged in a 17-page felony indictment.
Mayor Daley pays felon $40,000.00 in taxpayer money
Another inspector for the city of Chicago was sentenced to 21 months in prison last Friday. Thomas Ziroli was a ventilation inspector for the city of Chicago's Department of Buildings. A federal jury convicted Ziroli of bribery in March 2010 for accepting
Ex-Gov. Ryan appeals parts of conviction
Imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan is seeking to have elements of his conviction thrown out based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.
Gov. Quinn's chief of staff resigns amid ethics probe
Gov. Pat Quinn’s chief of staff resigned Sunday after the Chicago Sun-Times posed questions about a probe of three politically oriented correspondences sent from his government e-mail account in possible violation of a state ethics law.
Potential Mayor Daley challenger calls for forensic audit
Ald. Scott Waguespack, 32nd, has two terrifying words for Mayor Richard Daley: Forensic Audit.
Senate Seat For Sale--The Chicago Way
Buying your way into the U.S. Senate is nothing new. The most notorious case took place one hundred years ago. As you'd expect, a Chicago politician was at the middle of it.
Politics: The Art of the Unbelievable
In many places, voters become disenchanted when politicians move directly from high offices to lucrative jobs as lobbyists and consultants. Not in Illinois. Here, we are just happy when a politician doesn't go directly from high office to prison.
The Madigan Rules
House Speaker Michael Madigan says he follows a personal code of conduct to avoid conflicts of interest. Even so, some clients of his private law firm have benefited from his public actions.
Madigan's kind of town
Michael J. Madigan wasn't calling to talk about state issues. Instead, Madigan was drumming up legal business for his property tax appeal firm.
Madigan's allies get slice of village business
Michael Madigan calmly sliced his daily apple as he listened to the 40-minute pitch from several leaders of Oak Lawn, long frustrated in their efforts to secure money for a dilapidated water system that supplies much of the south suburbs.
How Reform Failed in Illinois
Limits on how much contributors can give to politicians had come to symbolize what reform meant in the post-Blagojevich landscape. But the commissioners assembled that morning at the end of May thought the proposal scheduled for a vote in a few hours fell
Keeping track of our imprisoned ex-governors
More than 33 years and 1,600 miles separate Dan Walker from his days in the governor's mansion in Springfield. Yet he's bracing to have his name dragged into the news again when another federal jury renders another verdict in another corruption trial of a
Gone to Sod
Meanwhile the Land of Lincoln's political culture -- once renowned for spectacular corruption and amazing efficiency -- has merely become corrupt and incompetent.
One Mom Fights the Chicago Machine to Stay On the Ballot
During the 1996 Illinois Senate race, an aspiring Chicago politician hired skilled attorneys to exploit election rules and challenge his primary opponents’ right to be placed on the ballot. This novice politician was Barack Obama who cut his teeth on Chic