State prosecutors from around the country are told how bad things are in Illinois.
A convicted former governor and scandals at Chicago City Hall earned Illinois the dubious distinction of “petri dish for corruption” at a national meeting of state prosecutors Tuesday.
The conviction last week of former Gov. George Ryan on federal racketeering and fraud charges was a backdrop for the National Association of Attorneys General’s one-day summit in Chicago to talk about ways to stamp out public corruption.
“Illinois is apparently a petri dish for corruption. It is a real breeding ground,” Illinois Campaign for Political Reform director Cynthia Canary told the group.
Ryan was convicted April 17 by a federal court jury of steering state leases and contracts in exchange for gifts. Ryan, a Republican, maintains his innocence and promises an appeal.
Federal prosecutors also are investigating political patronage and payoffs at Chicago City Hall. Dozens of people have been charged, including the former city clerk, who pleaded guilty last month to taking $48,000 in payoffs to get companies into a city program that outsourced trucking work to private haulers.
The administration of the current governor, Democrat Rod Blagojevich, finds its hiring practices under scrutiny by federal and state investigators. Blagojevich has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Comptroller Hynes was in Rockford yesterday talking about ethics.
State Comptroller Dan Hynes barnstormed the state Tuesday, stopping in Rockford to urge legislators to support his three-pronged bill that he says will end â€œpay to playâ€ politics in Illinois.
â€œThereâ€™s built-up frustration and anger among the citizenryâ€ over repeated stories of political corruption in both parties, Hynes said. â€œIf we can get people to channel that toward their leaders, we might be able to move this bill.â€