October 19, 2010
Chicago Corruption Remains High
City officials stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers, spent workdays viewing porn on the internet and awarded their buddies lucrative public contracts in the latest Chicago corruption saga.
Long known as a hotbed of pay-to-play politics infested with clout and patronage, the Windy City is as corrupt as ever, according to a new Chicago Inspector General quarterly report. It documents everything from wrongdoing among individuals to tens of millions of dollars in “contract irregularities” to convicted felons receiving taxpayer salaries and benefits.
Among the highlights are $23 million in no-bid contracts that pose a “significant risk to the city’s emergency preparedness,” a city director who stole more than $250,000 in education funds and an auditor who accepted thousands of dollars in gifts from vendors whose contracts he audited for the city’s compliance department.
The investigation was hampered by “false and misleading responses” and the “debilitating combination” of “endemic finger-pointing, poor or non-existent internal controls and missing paperwork,” the report says. Imagine if more information was readily available during the quarterly probe.
This sort of thing is par for the course for Chicago, which has long been distinguished for its pandemic of public corruption. In the last five decades the Windy City has seen nearly 150 employees, politicians and contractors get convicted in a variety of scandals.
Earlier this year one of Illinois’s biggest public universities published a report documenting Chicago’s crooked history, beginning in 1869 when county commissioners were imprisoned for rigging a contract to paint City Hall. It refers to Cook County, which includes Chicago, as a “dark pool of political corruption” for more than a century.
Judicial Watch has been a frontrunner in probing Chicago corruption, including the conflicted ties of top White House officials to the city. Last year Judicial Watch sued Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s office to obtain records related to President Obama’s failed bid to bring the Olympics to the city.