Sep. 25, 2015

Dirty Politicians

  • By Jerry K. Remmers

    Every newsperson, every website, every blogger in the United States at this very moment has an opinion on the latest inductee into the Corrupt Politicians Hall of Shame.

    If it weren’t for such a tough name to digest, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich would be a household name for the ages.

    If any of the criminal charges brought against him are true, he will make yesteryear’s Tammany Hall and Tom Pendergast look like a bunch of kids playing dice on the streets of New York and Kansas City.

    Nearly all of the charges against Blagojevich came from court-appointed wiretaps. Thus, they probably are true. Whether they all stick is another matter. The conclusion in the court of public opinion is he is guilty as hell. Innocent until proven guilty be damned.

    Blagojevich will go to the head of the class in college political science courses discussing politicians breaching the public trust.

    What a shame. Politicians have a thankless task. Most do the best they can even if some of them aren’t the brightest lights in the room. All we ask as voters is at least be honest.

    Blagojevich is the latest in a series of corrupt Illinois governors, all of whom had associations with the political power players in Chicago, a city better known for physical toughness than ethical standards.

    Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, was convicted in 1973 for bribery, tax evasion and other counts.

    George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders while he was Illinois secretary of state and then governor.

    William Stratton, governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but then acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.

    Illinois and Chicago in particular don’t have a monopoly on political corruption. They just get caught more often than not.

    I was raised in California where politics is as rough and tumble as anywhere. The liquor license scandals in Los Angeles were notorious.

    Nefarious dealings in Sacramento where governors exchanged jobs with senators was the norm when the Republicans were in power. Gov. Earl Warren returned so many favors he was appointed Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

    House Speakers Jesse Unruh and Willie Brown remain political legends in the state.

    Whether any of them were on the take, no one knows. There were no wiretaps in those days.

    What is sad is that skeptics point to the Blagojevichs and others in the latest criminal crop from Congress and the state capitols and justify their opinion that all politicians are crooks.

    Public opinion paints a broad swath. It stains those who do good.

    It should not be understated that Barack Obama’s transition team rejected overtures from Blagojevich for political favors in exchange for his senatorial replacement appointment.

    With a dirty Chicago political infrastructure, the Tony Rezko influence maker, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other creeps at his feet, it is a miracle Obama has remained Teflon clean.

    So far.