Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Decades Of Corruption In The Land Of Lincoln

The U.S. Attorney's Office had been investigating Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for three years and right after the 2008 Presidential Election ended in early November, a tap was placed on his phone.

What the Feds heard from the Illinois Governors telephone conversations during the last few weeks have been in the words of Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald a "political corruption crime spree" .

Yesterday, Blagojevich was arrested, handcuffed and taken before a federal magistrate on charges he conspired to sell his office. The charges involve a variety of crimes including fundraising in return for state contracts, plush jobs for the governor and his wife Patti, and selling the nomination to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder. It was a "pay to play" political corruption crime spree run from the Governor's office.

Of course, "pay to play" political corruption from the Governors office is nothing new in the land of Lincoln. However, this is a story not only about corruption but also about hypocrisy.

Rod Blagojevich ran for the Governor's office as a reformer to replace previous Illinois Governor Gov. George Ryan, who is now serving a six year prison term for accepting bribes. Ryan was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois Secretary of State and Governor.

If Blagojevich is convicted he will become the fourth Illinois Governor in the last 35 years to go to jail. Before Ryan was convicted in 2006, former governor Dan Walker was found guilty of taking fraudulent loans to repair his yacht. He plead guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury.

Several years earlier, Gov. Otto Kerner was convicted of taking bribes during his time in office. Kerner was convicted in 1972 on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He arranged favorable horse-racing dates as governor in return for horse-racing-association stock at reduced prices.

So, how did Rod Blagojevich launch his campaign to become the latest alleged corrupt Governor of Illinois? Well, he occupied “Dan” Rostenkowski’s Congressional seat after Rostenkowski plead guily to mail fraud charges.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the charges against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich "would make Lincoln roll over in his grave." Still, Blagojevich is only the latest in a long line of unsavory Illinois governors and politicians. Sadly, there have been decades of corruption in the land of Lincoln.

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