Illinois' storied past with governor scandals

December 10, 2008 5:41:25 AM PST
Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years. And, a host of others have gotten into trouble with the law. Rod Blagojevich is the latest Illinois governor to face charges, but the first to actually be arrested while still in office. One of his neighbors said, with sadness, "I guess we're going to have to build a 'governor's wing' at our federal prison".

"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the country, it's certainly one helluva competitor," said Robert Grant, FBI Special agent in charge.

In April of 2006 George Ryan was convicted of corruption charges, including steering state business in exchange for bribes.

Ryan is currently serving a 6 and half year prison sentence. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin wrote President Bush a letter asking him to commute Ryan's sentence. Governor Blagojevich has also said he believes the sentence should be commuted.

Dan Walker was governor from 1973 until 1977. He served 17 months of a 7-year prison sentence for a conviction on fraudulent business practices after he left office.

Otto Kerner was indicted and convicted of taking bribes in the form of racetrack stock while he served as governor of Illinois in the late 1960's. Kerner served 3 years in prison.

William Stratton was indicted tax charges for illegally using campaign funds. Stratton was acquitted of those charges. He served as governor from 1953 to 1961.

"This is a moment of truth for Illinois," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Possibly the most colorful politicians was Paul Powell, who'd say, "I can smell the meat a' cookin," when making political deals.

Powell was never indicted, but when he died, the late secretary of state left about $800,000 in shoe-boxes in a closet in his hotel apartment in Springfield.


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