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Crooked Pols Abound In America Too

Last month’s post about graft convictions of four consecutive mayors of two neighboring South Korean cities reminded us of hijinks a lot closer to home.

That’s right, the home states of our two presidential candidates, Illinois and Massachusetts.

In December last year, Rod Blagojevich, left, became the fourth Illinois governor convicted of corruption. He joined the felonious lineage of Otto Kerne (governor from 1961 to 1968), Dan Walker (governor from 1973 to 1977), and George Ryan (governor from 1999 through 2003), who proceeded Blagojevich in office.

Blago was sentenced to 14 years behind bars for trying to sell or trade the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated when he won the presidency.

Ryan was sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison, Walker to a year and a half, and Kerner to three years behind bars.

*     *     *

In Chicago, the conviction rate of aldermen for bribery is nearly a third, with 31 out of 100 office holders convicted since 1973.

Some Chicago wards have seen multiple convictions, a distinction shared by the 13th, 20th, 23rd, and 31st wards.

Two years ago in the 29th ward, an alderman was convicted of accepting bribes from a developer. His father had been convicted of the same crime 20 years earlier when he too was an alderman.

(Source: Anti-Corruption Report Number 5, February 15, 2012, updated April 18, 2012, University of Illinois at Chicago, Department of Political Science and the Illinois Integrity Initiative of the University of Illinois’ Institute for Government and Public Affairs available here.)

*     *     *

In what must be a United States record, three consecutive speakers of the Massachusetts House have been convicted of felonies.

Last year, a federal jury convicted Salvatore DiMasi of mail fraud, wire fraud, and extortion.

DiMasi’s predecessor, Thomas Finneran, pleaded guilty in 2006 to obstruction of justice for testimony he gave in redistricting litigation.

In 1996, Finneran’s predecessor Charles Flaherty pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

DiMasi was sentenced in September last year to 8 years in prison. Finneran and Flaherty didn’t serve any jail time after they cut plea deals.

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