Report: Chicago area most corrupt in nation
Chicagoland and northern Illinois have seen more corrupt public officials put behind bars than any other part of the nation, an analysis found.
The Second City and surrounding area is second to none when it comes to public corruption, an academic study found.
There have been more than 1,730 federal corruption convictions since 1976 in the U.S. court district covering Chicago and the northernmost third of Illinois, according to an analysis by the University of Illinois, Chicago. That’s more than any other district in the nation.
The study compiled U.S. Department of Justice, or DOJ, corruption statistics from between 1976 and 2017, the most recent year available. Data for 2017 show 25 corruption convictions in the Chicago area, down from 30 the previous year. Corruption in Chicago has trended slowly downward, the study notes, but nevertheless continues to lead the nation in federal convictions.
Los Angeles and New York City federal court districts trailed just behind Chicago, amassing 1,534 and 1,327 public corruption convictions, respectively.
Moreover, recent corruption scandals involving powerful Ald. Ed Burke, 14th Ward, and Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th Ward, have recast Chicago as the corruption capitol in the national press in recent months. Burke, Chicago’s longest-serving alderman, faces a federal corruption charge stating he attempted to extort a fast food restaurant franchise owner. A conviction could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The study also quantified corruption statewide, pinning Illinois at No. 3 in terms of per-capita federal corruption convictions. Illinois saw 1.63 corruption convictions for every 10,000 residents since 1976, according to the study. More than 80 percent of those convictions were in the Chicago federal court district.
The most corrupt was Washington, D.C., with 17.24 convictions per capita, followed by Louisiana, with 2.57.
Endemic corruption in Chicago and Illinois is hardly a secret, but there are blueprints for reform from which city and state leaders could take direction. With a new administration settled in Springfield, and a mayoral election fast approaching, the new crop of state and local policymakers has an opportunity to start reversing this discouraging trend.