Leading the Pack…

These words are included in the title of a study released this past Wednesday by the University of Illinois at Chicago. The subject? Deep-dish pizza? Windshear warnings? Snowplows per capita? Nope.

Corruption.

The study, Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption, details the city of Chicago’s notorious history of public scandal and the ugly track record of the state of Illinois’ highest ranking government officials The opening paragraphs of the report go straight to the issues at the state capitol:

“Since 1970, four Illinois governors have been convicted of corruption. Yet only seven men have held this office in this time, meaning more than half of the state’s governors have been convicted in the past forty-two years. Otto Kerner, who served from 1961 until his resignation in 1968 to accept a federal judgeship, was convicted in 1973 of mail fraud, bribery, perjury, and income tax evasion while governor. Dan Walker, who served from 1973 – 1977, was convicted in 1987 of obtaining fraudulent loans for the business he operated after he left office.

George Ryan, who served from 1999 – 2003, was found guilty in 2006 of racketeering, conspiracy and numerous other charges. Many of the charges were part of a huge scandal, later called “Licenses for Bribes,” which resulted in the conviction of more than 40 state workers and private citizens. The scandal involved unqualified truck drivers receiving licenses in exchange for bribes that would ultimately end up in Ryan’s campaign fund. The scandal came to light when a recipient of one of these licenses crashed in to a van and killed six children. But perhaps the most famous of all Illinois corrupt officials is Rod Blagojevich, who served from 2003 until his impeachment in 2009. Blagojevich was ultimately convicted in 2011 of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. Other charges included his attempting to shake down Children’s Memorial Hospital for a campaign contribution in return for funding and his trying to extort a racetrack owner.”

If you have an extra week or two, read the full report here.

So what’s the point?

Meagan was studying for a Civics test this past Wednesday and she had to memorize this quote: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I just found the timing of the UIC study and Meagan’s studying to be interesting.

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