I wonder if the media obsession with Illinois being corrupt has anything to do with the President-elect? Ya think? Because Illinois is no more (or less) corrupt than other states. Politics is a dirty, full-contact sport, and the lure of power and money lead politicians to do many questionable things, some of which are illegal, and some of which they get caught doing.
How many times does the rest of the world need to be reminded that three of our last seven governors went to prison or that at least 79 of our elected officials have been convicted since 1972? Yes, there was a time when it was a very big deal that an entire year had passed without a Chicago alderman going to jail. Do we have to trot that out every couple of weeks?
It was refreshing, then, to learn that USA Today had done some original reporting on the subject and determined that Illinois is not, in fact, the most corrupt place on the planet or even in the United States. That distinction belongs to North Dakota.
That’s right, governor—North bleeping Dakota. Illinois is No. 18.
If you visit the USAToday.com Web site, you’ll find a nifty little interactive map that allows you to roll your cursor over any state and see how many public officials have been convicted of corruption there since 1998. The map is color coded, based on badness, and Illinois isn’t even one of the dark blue ones. Based on an analysis of Justice Department statistics, North Dakota (population 639,715) had 8.3 federal corruption convictions per 100,000 residents; Illinois (population 12.9 million) had 3.9.
Since even the new-look Chicago Tribune refuses to link to other news sources, the USA Today article reads:
On a per-capita basis, however, Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Department of Justice statistics.
Louisiana, Alaska and North Dakota all fared worse than the Land of Lincoln in that analysis.
Alaska narrowly ousted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in the election in November after he was convicted of not reporting gifts from wealthy friends. In Louisiana, Democratic Rep. William Jefferson was indicted in 2007 on racketeering and bribery charges after the FBI said it found $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer. Jefferson, who has maintained his innocence and will soon go to trial, lost his seat to a Republican this year.