Democrat controlled Illinois is facing the consequences of decades of corruption at the highest levels of state government. Governor J.B. Pritzker has failed to address the charges of widespread corruption which cost the state allegedly more than half a billion dollars every year. Republican leadership in the state is now calling for widespread ethics reform to repair the damage done through decades in which Illinois has consistently been one of the most corrupt states in the country.
Decades of corruption in Illinois
Longtime Illinois House of Representatives Speaker Michael Madigan resigned in February after a tenure in which he was frequently implicated in a variety of scandals and corruption investigations.
Aides and other associates of Madigan have repeatedly been exposed as being involved in bribery scandals and sexual harassment cases, though Madigan himself had managed to survive most of the investigations into these incidents.
Madigan played a part in the impeachment and removal from office of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2008 after the Governor was exposed as having been involved in wire fraud and bribery schemes.
Current Governor Pritzker last year joined calls for Madigan to be investigated for the corruption accusations leveled at him and said that he had ” a lot that he needs to answer for to authorities, to investigators and most importantly to the people of Illinois”
Pritzker himself has also been accused of participation in a corruption scheme which cost Illinois taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Regarding Madigan, even after these accusations, Pritzker expressed his outrage at the existence of corrupt officials in Illinois, saying ” I think people who are in public service need to live up to the integrity of the job they were asked to do.”
State economy suffering
In 2015 Pritzker and his wife hired contractors to remove all of the toilets from their Cook County mansion before an inspection so that the building would be deemed uninhabitable.
The scheme resulted in a $331,000 property tax break for Pritzker and an investigation into the incident from both local and federal authorities.
The contractors who aided Pritzker in the scheme have benefitted handsomely from his election as Governor, receiving a number of lucrative state and federal contracts.
While Illinois is said to be only the second most corrupt state in the nation, Chicago allegedly wins first place as the most corrupt city in America, according to a report from the University of Illinois at Chicago which was released in 2020 and employed data collected from 2018.
The scale of the corruption has had a significant impact on economic growth and investment in the state, which due to Covid has an exceptionally high number of unemployed people actively looking for work but unable to find new opportunities.
For Democrats in Illinois, the issue with approving any kind of investigation into the crippling statewide corruption problem seems to be that such an investigation might end up leading right back to their own offices.