Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Proud Tradition Continues

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan went on trial yesterday under a 22-count federal indictment for racketeering, mail and tax fraud and making false statements.

In so doing, Ryan joined a long list of Illinois Governors in the dock. A short list from the last 100 years:
  • Dan Walker, Governor from 1973 to 1977, did a couple of years in federal prison for fraud (unrelated to his tenure as Governor).
  • Otto Kerner, Governor from 1961 to 1968, also did a couple of years in the federal pokey for 17 counts of bribery, conspiracy, perjury, and related charges.
  • William Stratton, Governor from 1953 to 1961, beat a tax evasion rap in 1965.
  • Len Small (like Ryan, from Kankakee), Governor from 1921 to 1929, was tried for embezzlement and bribery, but also beat the rap.
Now the current Governor, Rod Blagojevich, finds himself in a bit of trouble as well. Two people recently pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to demand consulting fees from investment firms wanting to do business with the state's school teachers pension fund. They said in their plea agreements that the payments were used to reward campaign donors for the benefit of a "high-ranking public official," reputed to be Blagojevich.

And this is just the list of relatively recent Governors in trouble -- without even getting into all the other disgraced Illinois pols, from Paul Powell and Dan Rostenkowski on down.

Illinois corruption -- a proud tradition.


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