December 10th, 2008
07:21 PM ET

Why is Illinois so corrupt?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/09/blagojevich.profile/art.rod.rx.gi.jpg caption="Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, shown here in 2003."]
Eamon Javers and Fred Barbash

A visibly disgusted FBI special agent Robert Grant stood at a podium in Chicago during a press conference Tuesday announcing the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and hurling his contempt at the entire political culture of the state of Illinois.

“If it is not the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor,” Grant said, his disheveled shock of black hair giving some indication of the dramatic and stressful events of the day.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald termed the events leading up to the governor’s early-morning arrest by the FBI, “a corruption crime spree,” and said it was “an appalling statement about what’s been happening in Illinois government.”

So just what is the problem with Illinois?

It certainly seems like Illinois has a particular sweet spot for corruption: Blagojevich’s own predecessor as governor, George Ryan, went to jail in 2007 in a 6-1/2 year sentence for corruption of his own.


Filed under: Eamon Javers • Fred Barbash • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Dr. Myslotsky

    Obama rose up quickly in the corrupt Illinois political environment and certainly must have played this game himself. It is logical to conclude that Obama could have paid to get on the ballot. This man rose to power way too quickly and this is very suspicious. Obama's friends are in or going to jail.

    And, certainly Obama's 20 yr. church was racist. If a white, asian, hispanic person said the 'N' word – it's racist – but it's apparently it is ok for his 20 yr. church to say the reverse 'N' word without any punishment. There is a strong chance that Obama could also be arrested before he takes office. This leaves Biden as President???

    December 11, 2008 at 4:02 am |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    The penalties do not appear a sufficient deterrent to fit the crimes committed, or the "money basis" more likely of the whole Amrican political system encourages such try ons.
    Governors being able to appoint for whatever reason an elected official is the problem as it is clearly undemocratic. Fix that federally.

    December 11, 2008 at 1:42 am |
  3. vickster

    Why?.....because Washington is.

    December 11, 2008 at 12:31 am |
  4. lynn

    Washington, DC is as corrupt or even more corrupt than Chicago.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:50 pm |
  5. CaseyJ - Palm Springs, CA

    I suppose we would have to go back in history to the inception of Chicago as the commerce capitol of the mid-west (the city that connected the east with the western frontier?). I'm guessing organized crime has a lot to with this history lesson, even before Al Capone.

    December 10, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  6. lampe

    If Obama, who lives in Chicago can't answer the question as to Why Chicago has nothing but a bunch of crooked politicians? What makes you think The POTUS, would be able to answer? And, I think Obama knows alot more about these dirty politics and politicians from Chicago, then he is letting on.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  7. Larry

    Good thing there was no corruption going on in Chicago when Obama was living there, he'd have moved out.

    December 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm |
  8. earle,florida

    There's not one state in this "Great Country", that's not exempt from corruption. Usually after so many years(politicians that have feathered their nest) they all retire,or reluctanty make a very poor re-election bid to lose? But, the changes are superficial as they've set up the next government to carry out their(those that put them in office) agenda.You know ,kinda like all of PE Obama's appointee's from past Clinton Administration. Think of it this way, we've got a congress with lifetime politicians (no term limits) that have appointed every judge, supreme court/state justice ,state attorny generals(Lieutenant Governors) ,and every law enforcement officer with power thru-out this uncorruptable country of ours! Sorry to be negative, but that how I view every state,....

    December 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm |
  9. Jennifer Cook

    I think it's very interesting that a prosecutor that couldn't find anyone other than Scooter Libby to try for the Valarie Plame case just happens to charge the govenor from the stat of our new president elect. I smell Republican dirty tricks and you guys are really helping them out as long as you keep harping on our new president elect that wanted to bring about change. Well, no change from you and the Republicans. Blagojevich may be and probably is guilty, but if he were a Republican gov. we'd all be hearing "innocent until proven guilty".

    December 10, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  10. Yolanda

    Ok seriously, everyone is dying for Obama to comment on this issue. Why? We have so much more important problems at hand that he needs to be commenting on! The economy, the wars I mean really! He has so much more to do than comment on something that is literally out of his hands! Why don't you ask the CURRENT President abpout why Illinois is corrupt, jeez people this man is not God!

    December 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm |
  11. Tereska Chicago

    Is corrupt because of 1/ Chicago Mayor !!! He set the tone of how to run business in Chicago. 2/ There is no accountability for anything!! 3/ No honesty 4/No leadership where you see proper example.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  12. Judith

    Maybe because Chicago is a "windy city" and it attracts all kinds of diseases and insects from the air that land in people's minds and hearts and then grows into corruption and dark alliances waiting to make profit from the unsuspecting innocent consumer who is not paying attention to the story happening behind the scenes.

    December 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm |