So you think that you know where the most political crooks are coming from, right?
You're sure it's got to be Chicago, for it's machine-style politics and its elected leaders have been under investigation for years. But by one measure, you're wrong. Illinois is not even close to the nation's most-corrupt state.
North Dakota, it turns out, may hold that distinction instead!
Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday after a wiretap allegedly recorded him scheming to make money on his appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. Blagojevich, a Democrat, ran for election in part on cleaning up after his predecessor, Republican George Ryan, who was convicted in 2006 of racketeering, bribery and extortion.
"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office, said Tuesday.
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 Department of Justice.
Don Morrison, executive director of the non-partisan North Dakota Center for the Public Good, said it may be that North Dakotans are better at rooting out corruption when it occurs.
A statue of "Honest John" Burke, governor from 1907 to 1913, stands in front of the North Dakota's state capitol building in Bismarck. North Dakota had the highest rate of public corruption convictions won by federal prosecutors from 1998 through 2007.
I'm working on a AS IT STANDS column for January 2009, which will deal with corrupt politicians and the states that produce them.