What the Heck Is the Matter With Corrupt Illinois?

Still, it's hardly the only state with a long, sordid history of politicians on the take
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Dec 10, 2008 12:00 PM CST
In this courtroom artist's drawing, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, center, John Harris, left, and federal prosecutor Reid Schar, stand before Judge Jan Nolan in Chicago yesterday.   (Verna Sadock)
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(Newser) – Everyone knows Illinois pols are the dirtiest … except for maybe those in New Jersey and Louisiana. Though Illinois is notorious, with four modern governors convicted, a study of public corruption actually ranks it as the sixth-worst state. But no single factor explains a crooked culture, Eamon Javers and Fred Barbash write in an examination of political graft in Politico.

One theory says it’s all regional, but Jersey and Louisiana aren’t exactly neighbors. Another argues that political competition encourages corruption, ie, political players have to accept corruption as standard procedure. One Illinois governor got busted when a briber tried to deduct payoffs as a business expense. Or, as a convicted Maryland official said, “It’s like I got caught going 35 in a 30 mile zone.”