MAY 29, 2009
Yet another veteran lawmaker in a major U.S. city long known for its rampant public corruption has been criminally charged this week, just months after a colleague got sent to prison for accepting bribes.
Chicago Alderman Isaac Carothers took tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a developer in return for his support of a zoning change for the city’s largest undeveloped land tract, according to a federal indictment. Carothers accepted the bribe in the form of home improvements from the developer, who raked in millions of dollars as a result of the zoning change.
Carothers, a prominent Democrat who has represented Chicago’s far west side since 1999, also accepted pricey meals and tickets to sporting events from the developer who performed at least $40,000 worth of home improvements on the politician’s home. The work included painting, new windows, exterior doors and central air conditioning.
The developer was also charged with wire and mail fraud, obstructing justice and violating federal campaign finance laws. Carothers was charged with wire and mail fraud, accepting a bribe and filing a false federal income tax return. His indictment marks the latest of numerous public corruption cases in the state, not just the Windy City.
In mid February Chicago Alderman Arenda Troutman was sentenced to jail for accepting bribes from a developer in exchange for her support on building projects in her poor and crime-infested district. After initially denying the charges, Troutman eventually pleaded guilty to federal mail and tax fraud for soliciting cash bribes from developers to back their South Side projects.
Illinois has a long history of crooked politicians that include a Republican governor (George Ryan) in prison after multiple corruption convictions and a Democrat governor (Rod Blagojevich) recently arrested and charged for selling the influence of his office to the highest bidder.
This sort of public corruption has for years been so pervasive in the Prairie State that a special reform commission was created to help clean it up. The commission recently issued recommendations in a lengthy report, but the measures may never be implemented since most require the approval of the very legislators targeted for wrongdoing.
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