My homestate of Illinois is one of the most corrupt states in the Union.
From top to bottom it is infested with political corruption. Three governors of my state in the past four decades have gone to prison for corruption: Otto Kerner, Dan Walker and George Ryan. The sitting governor of my state, Rod Blagojevich, was arrested yesterday on multiple corruption charges, including attempting to sell the senate seat recently vacated by Obama. Apparently the price under consideration was half a million dollars. The criminal complaint is here.
It is a sad day when the criminal indictment of a sitting governor is a cause for celebration, but that is the reaction of many of the residents of Illinois. US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, our modern day Elliot Ness, (Yes, I realize the movie was hideously ahistoric although still, in my opinion, a true classic.) has the scalp of one Illinois governor and now he is going for his second. Patrick Fitzgerald has led the thankless fight to clean up my state with virtually the entire political power structure in both parties in Illinois being hostile to his efforts.
US Senator Peter Fitzgerald, a conservative pro-life Republican, no relation to Patrick Fitzgerald, engineered the appointmentof Patrick Fitzgerald as US Attoney for the the Northern District of Illinois in 2001 specifically to tackle political corruption in Illinois. Peter Fitzgerald declined to run for a second term in 2004, weary of fighting the corrupt elements within his own party. (Corruption in Illinois is completely bi-partisan.) However, the never-ending battle that Patrick Fitzgerald has waged against the public thieves who make honesty in government a punch-line in Illinois is a legacy that Peter Fitzgerald can deservedly take pride in.
Obama has said that he plans to keep Fitzgerald as US Attorney for the Northern District. Anyone in this country who cares about clean government should do everything in his power to insist that this is one promise Obama keeps.
Update: As usual Iowahawk has the most humorous take on the situation.
Update II: A short guide to Illinois governors and legal woes.
Update III: The Chicago Tribune calls for the resignation of Blagojevich.