Chicago's Judicial District Has The Most Corruption In The U.S.
By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 29, 2015 4:10PM
Chicago: city of the big corruption scandals. That's how our unofficial slogan goes, right?
To many, Chicago politics are synonymous with corruption— whether its of the bribery, tax evasion or senate seat-selling flavor. The University of Illinois, Chicago has taken note, naming Chicago the corruption capital of America for a second year in a report released Thursday.
Looking at an analysis of Department of Justice public corruption conviction statistics for 2013, the most recent data available, Chicago's judicial district, which includes Cook County and 17 other Northern Illinois counties, came out on top with the most corruption scandals of any district in the country. Our tally: 45 public corruption convictions in 2013 alone and 1,642 convictions over the past 38 years.
Presumably there was no need to rig this contest.
While Chicago took top honors, Illinois is only the third-most corrupt state when viewing statewide data. New York earned the distinction of most-corrupt state with 2,657 public corruption convictions from 1976 to 2013. California came in second with 2,549 convictions and Illinois came in third with 1,982.
Chicago's corruption problem is steeped into the city's lore and frequently serves as comedic fodder but the researchers want to remind us that it isn't a laughing matter.
"Corruption is not funny and it is not free. Its costs are steep," the report reads. "We all pay a staggeringly high corruption tax and we suffer from diminished government services."
Thomas Gradel and Dick Simpson, two of the reports authors, estimate that corruption costs Illinois about $500 million a year. The number is staggering even when broken down into some of the city and state's biggest recent scandals. The "Hired Truck" scandal cost taxpayers $15 million per year over ten years, the report says, while police corruption, including the $100 million in Jon Burge lawsuit settlements and the planned "reparations fund," costs about $50 million a year.
The study authors have an eight-step program for fighting public corruption:
1) Demand more transparency and accountability;
2) Hire more inspectors general, including suburban inspectors general;
3) Provide a new program of civic education in schools by passing the law pending in the state legislature;
4) Encourage more citizen participation in government and politics by moving the date of the primary;
5) Adopt public financing for political campaigns;
6) Elect better public officials;
7) Change how we remap legislative districts and adopt term limits for elected officials; and
8) End political machines and change Illinois’ culture of corruption.
Sounds good to you, Illinois politicians?