By far, Chicago is the most corrupt city in the nation

Ethel C. Fenig
To understand President Barack Obama (D) it is necessary to understand where he comes from.  And no, I'm not  only referring to Hawaii, Indonesia, Columbia University, Harvard Law School, University of Chicago Law School and any other places he touched down on to his journey to the White House.  All of the preceding were/are important in molding him of course and all have been analyzed in varying degrees of thoroughness. 

But one influential component of his life has been relatively neglected--the poisonous Chicago and Illinois political culture he jumped in to, participated in and took with him to Washington.  Known as The Chicago Way it was succinctly summed up by Obama himself while campaigning for the presidency 3 1/2 years ago in Philadelphia; "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," a reference to a famous quote from The Untouchables and the notorious Chicago mob's brutal and corrupt philosophy. 

As Politico's Ben Smith noted at the time  

Obama never paid much of a price for his willingness to go negative. He also, to be fair, never promised that he wouldn't attack, and indeed often promised to be tougher than past Democrats, and bragged of his Chicago training. He disavowed nasty character attacks, but then everybody disavows nasty character attacks.

And now, on the eve of learning additional details of convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's (D) impending departure for prison, the fourth Illinois governor to be imprisoned in the last 40 years, a former Chicago alderman morphed into a political science professor announced a dubious distinction for the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.  According to Dick Simpson, who was one of the city's rare Republican officeholders, "Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country.  (snip)   And, he says, Illinois is third-most corrupt state in the country."

In the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago, there have been a total 1531 public corruption convictions since 1976, Simpson found. A distant second is California's central district in Los Angeles with 1,275 public corruption convictions since 1976, Simpson found.

Statewide, that number hits 1,828. Only California and New York have more, but those states have much higher populations. Per capita, only the District of Columbia and Louisiana have more convictions.

 In addition, dozens of Chicago alderman and other city and county public officials have been found guilty, Simpson said.

Corruption, Simpson said, is intertwined with city politics. Simpson found that about a third of sitting alderman since 1973 have been corrupt.

Bluntly titled "Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption," the authors do make recommendations for cleaning up the city and state.  But as an alderman (D) told Mayor Richard J. Daley (D), the father of Chicago's most recent former mayor Richard M. Daley (D) and Obama's recently resigned Chief of Staff William Daley (D) 50 years ago "Chicago ain't ready for reform." 

  Does this corrupt-as-normal background explain Obama's attitudes towards governance--from forcing through legally dubious Obamacare to his legally dubious interim appointments, to shoveling tons of taxpayer money to his favored pals in the dubious clean energy business, to trampling on the religious and moral sensibilities of a significant segment of the population--all justified by him because "I won"?

Well, it certainly explains a lot. 


To understand President Barack Obama (D) it is necessary to understand where he comes from.  And no, I'm not  only referring to Hawaii, Indonesia, Columbia University, Harvard Law School, University of Chicago Law School and any other places he touched down on to his journey to the White House.  All of the preceding were/are important in molding him of course and all have been analyzed in varying degrees of thoroughness. 

But one influential component of his life has been relatively neglected--the poisonous Chicago and Illinois political culture he jumped in to, participated in and took with him to Washington.  Known as The Chicago Way it was succinctly summed up by Obama himself while campaigning for the presidency 3 1/2 years ago in Philadelphia; "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun," a reference to a famous quote from The Untouchables and the notorious Chicago mob's brutal and corrupt philosophy. 

As Politico's Ben Smith noted at the time  

Obama never paid much of a price for his willingness to go negative. He also, to be fair, never promised that he wouldn't attack, and indeed often promised to be tougher than past Democrats, and bragged of his Chicago training. He disavowed nasty character attacks, but then everybody disavows nasty character attacks.

And now, on the eve of learning additional details of convicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's (D) impending departure for prison, the fourth Illinois governor to be imprisoned in the last 40 years, a former Chicago alderman morphed into a political science professor announced a dubious distinction for the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.  According to Dick Simpson, who was one of the city's rare Republican officeholders, "Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country.  (snip)   And, he says, Illinois is third-most corrupt state in the country."

In the Northern District of Illinois, which includes Chicago, there have been a total 1531 public corruption convictions since 1976, Simpson found. A distant second is California's central district in Los Angeles with 1,275 public corruption convictions since 1976, Simpson found.

Statewide, that number hits 1,828. Only California and New York have more, but those states have much higher populations. Per capita, only the District of Columbia and Louisiana have more convictions.

 In addition, dozens of Chicago alderman and other city and county public officials have been found guilty, Simpson said.

Corruption, Simpson said, is intertwined with city politics. Simpson found that about a third of sitting alderman since 1973 have been corrupt.

Bluntly titled "Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption," the authors do make recommendations for cleaning up the city and state.  But as an alderman (D) told Mayor Richard J. Daley (D), the father of Chicago's most recent former mayor Richard M. Daley (D) and Obama's recently resigned Chief of Staff William Daley (D) 50 years ago "Chicago ain't ready for reform." 

  Does this corrupt-as-normal background explain Obama's attitudes towards governance--from forcing through legally dubious Obamacare to his legally dubious interim appointments, to shoveling tons of taxpayer money to his favored pals in the dubious clean energy business, to trampling on the religious and moral sensibilities of a significant segment of the population--all justified by him because "I won"?

Well, it certainly explains a lot.