Friday, December 12, 2008

Corruption Central

When news first broke of Illinois Governor Rob Blagojevich's flagrant bribery and obvious power trip, my first reaction was bewilderment.

Blagojevich was trying to sell the vacant senate seat that President-Elect Obama would be giving up in January. He also was threatening to withhold funding from Children's Memorial Hospital unless the editorial staff at the Chicago Tribune were fired, because he had gotten poor press in the past.

The amount of power and just plain balls this governor had blew my mind. [Also a mind blower: that this ameature sketch of him titled 'The Face of Disgrace" has one bid on eBay. Hurry while you can, you might be even able to get it over-nighted in time for the holidays.] [pps: Is it just me or does his eye-to-face ratio remind you of John Travolta?]

Subsequently, media outlets began to look back into the history of Illinois government for follow-up stories.

It turns out that you don't have to go back too far to find another corrupt governor; try Blagojevich's precessor, George Ryan.

Ryan currently resides in a prison, serving a 6-and-a-half uear sentence after dealing state contracts and leases to political insiders.

Looks like instead of avoiding abusing power, Blagojevich took cues from Ryan on how to do just that.

And it is not just confined to the governor's office. Illinois 1926 senator Frank L. Smith took took "the modern-day equivalent of $14.5 million in campaign contributions from the owner of a utility he regulated," according to an article on Quad Cities Online. Illinois' citizens elected Smith, but his fellow Senators in the U.S. Senate refused to let him take office, based on his sketchy track record.

With Illinois a suspect hotbed for political corruption, it is only logical to have reservations about Barack Obama.

Don't get me wrong. I voted for Obama; I think he's the kind of person we need in the Oval Office to start changing American government in the places it needs work. But I think it's only logical to recognize the political past of Illinois politicians and be critical as a result.

I'm not saying Obama is going to take bribes or demand change by the weight of money. I think he's been more transparent and moral honest than most past politicans with his stand to not accept lobbyist money as well as making sure his transitional team has not ties to lobbying agencies or groups.

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