Chicago and Illinois among nation's leaders in public corruption, report says

February 16, 2012 By Brian Flood, University of Illinois at Chicago

( -- The Northern District of Illinois, which consists primarily of the Chicago metropolitan area, is the most corrupt federal district in the country, and Illinois is the third most corrupt state, according to a new report produced by researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

The report, "Chicago and Illinois: Leading the Pack in ," shows that the number of public-corruption convictions in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) leads all other districts with 1,531 convictions since 1976. The two closest contenders were the Central District of California (Los Angeles) with 1,275 convictions, and the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) with 1,202 convictions.

It also indicates that Illinois has been home to more federal public-corruption convictions, on a per capita basis, than anywhere in the country except for the District of Columbia and Louisiana.

The full report is available online.

A team of professors and students led by Dick Simpson, UIC professor and head of political science, and Jim Nowlan, a senior fellow at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, gathered figures for the report from the recently released 2010 public corruption statistics and data since 1976 from the U.S. Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section.

The "most corrupt" rankings were determined from the public-corruption conviction statistics from the country's 94 federal judicial districts relative to the population of their respective .

"For a long time -- going back at least to the Al Capone era -- Chicago and Illinois have been known for high levels of public corruption," said Simpson, a former 44th Ward alderman in Chicago. "But now we have the statistics that confirm their dishonorable and notorious reputations."

Nowlan, a former Illinois state representative, said have been very active in the state.

"Besides the four governors, they convicted two U.S. congressmen, a state treasurer, an attorney general, the auditor, two state senators, five state representatives, at least two deputy directors of state agencies, numerous judges and elected and appointed county officials, policemen, inspectors and government employees," Nowlan said.

In Chicago, 31 members of the City Council have been found guilty or pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes since 1973. Two additional aldermen were indicted but died before they could be tried for alleged crimes.

"Clearly, much more must be done to stem the tide of corruption in Illinois," said Simpson.

During tonight's public meeting held by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Ethics Reform Task Force, Simpson and Nowlan will present the following recommendations:

1. Amend the city’s ethics ordinance to cover aldermen and their staffs.

2. Give the Inspector General access to all city documents including those held secret by the corporation counsel.

3. Ban all gifts to all elected officials and public employees except those from family members.

4. Bar all lobbying of other governmental bodies by elected officials and city employees.

5. Prohibit double dipping, patronage and nepotism, with real penalties, including firing.

6. Improve the city's ethics training to, at least, the state's required level.

Other contributors to the report are Thomas J. Gradel, Melissa Mouritsen Zmuda, David Sterrett, and Doug Cantor. Partial funding for the project was provided by the Crossroads Fund and the Woods Charitable Trust.

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3 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2012
For some reason, I wasn't surprised by any of the high ranking locations!

Many of them make sense due to the large number of people and, I'm assuming, means more politicians. However, DC is listed in the top of all of the lists. That's pretty bad since they have so many fewer residents!
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 16, 2012
Power corrupts.
Decentralize power => less corruption.
It might also help to have a press that is not in the back pocket of the govt.
2 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
"Federal funds flow to clean-energy firms with Obama administration ties"http://www.washin...y_1.html
No corruption here. Move on.
Or here:
"Federal filings also show that Soros Fund Management, the investment vehicle controlled by billionaire and longtime Democratic donor George Soros, owns more than three million shares in the Vancouver, British Columbia-based distributor of LNG engines. It is a position worth more than $90 million, as of the Feb. 14 market close.

Soros has already made more than $60 million profits selling shares and he could make another $60 million profit were he to get liquid on his entire remaining block, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission."
2 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2012
Or here:
"Warren Buffett is very much a political entrepreneur; his best investments are often in political relationships. In recent years, Buffett has used taxpayer money as a vehicle to even greater profit and wealth. Indeed, the success of some of his biggest bets and the profitability of some of his largest investments rely on government largesse and coddling with taxpayer money."
But this is called 'legal' plunder and is not counted in the study.
1 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2012
Northwestern University is a leader of swindling by performing a masterly plagiaristic enterprise in the united research gang also from the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Joint Research Centre (JRC), universities of Ferrara and Genova at
1 / 5 (4) Feb 17, 2012
The only way to get the business of money out of politics, is to get politicians out of business. Government involvement in commerce should be limited to resolving disputes in the courts (fraud, breach of contract, etc.), not "regulating" it so government decides what can be sold, who can buy, and now it is more and more requiring that you buy certain products (health insurance in MA e.g.).

It's not money that corrupts politics, it's politicians corrupting money and commerce.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2012
Are 'number of convictions' really a good indicator? If we're dealing with real corrupt systems then law enforcement and justice are corrupt, too. So at some point I'd expect that MORE corrupt cities would have LESS number of convictons.

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