Chicago and Illinois continue to maintain an astonishing level of political corruption. Most recently, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Chicago Alderman Sandra Stevens Jackson, pleaded guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign funds on everything from a gold-plated Rolex watch to a fur cape. “For years I lived off my campaign,” the congressman said. The two now join an already-lengthy list of Illinois political wrongdoers. Four of the state’s last nine governors went to prison. Chicago was named the most corrupt city in America last year by a University of Illinois at Chicago study. The report said that between 1976 and 2010, there were 1,531 convictions for public corruption in “the federal district dominated by Chicago.” And the 1,828 total convictions for Illinois trailed the numbers in only two states, California and New York.
Before we get too frantic over all the sky-is-falling sequestration rhetoric from politicians and pundits in Washington, it might be good to remember how former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm liked to describe the District of Columbia: Sixty-eight square miles surrounded by reality.