There's a price tag on Illinois corruption and it isn't cheap

Jul 15, 2014

Illinois corruption is not uncommon. In fact, 89 percent of Illinoisans believe corruption in the state is common. But do those Illinoisans realize how much Illinois corruption is costing them?

There’s now a price tag that can be placed on corruption in the state. Illinois is not the only state with high levels of corruption, but two college professors included Illinois in their list of ten most corrupt states and then they went on to place a “corruption tax” on those states.

The price tag for corruption in Illinois and the other nine most corrupt states?

$1,308 per person.

Chad Merda of the Chicago Sun-Times has more:

[N]ow we can put a dollar amount on how much all those misdeeds by elected officials are costing taxpayers, thanks to John Mikesell, Indiana University professor of public and environmental affairs, and Cheol Liu, assistant professor of public policy at City University of Hong Kong

According to The Times of Northwest Indiana, the two determined that the 10 most corrupt states in the U.S. — yes, Illinois is on that list — would have spent 5.2 percent less from 1997 to 2008 if those states only had the average amount of corruption.

After crunching the numbers, that comes to an average of $1,308 per person in those states, or as they put it, a “corruption tax.”

Currently, the top Illinois story that hints of corruption is the investigation revolving around Gov. Pat Quinn’s failed anti-violence program launched just before his election in 2010. The Chicago Tribune is the latest to investigate the program, this time looking at a nonprofit that is drawing scrutiny for spending and lack of oversight.

From Chicago Tribune reporters Joe Mahr and Ray Long:

Back in late 2010, Apostle Carl White helped pick who would receive a lucrative state grant — then got $5,000 from the winning recipient.

“It didn’t seem like a big deal to anybody,” White recalled.

But now the state is seeking to recover the cash in response to a Tribune investigation that found questionable expenses in a key south suburban township during an examination of Gov. Pat Quinn’s $54.5 million anti-violence program.

A Tribune investigation last month focused on one aspect of the program: how Quinn’s administration chose who got the money. That report highlighted how taxpayer cash was given to a politically powerful yet financially shaky Woodlawn nonprofit that folded and now owes the state $238,000.

The latest Tribune review focuses on another aspect of the program: how little the administration monitored $1.2 million in grant money overseen by another nonprofit, Healthcare Consortium of Illinois, based in the voter-rich Democratic stronghold of Thornton Township.

The program, officially titled the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, is under scrutiny from a bipartisan legislative panel, federal prosecutors and Cook County prosecutors. The panel is scheduled to have hearings to investigate further into the program, but the feds have requested that lawmakers hold off on the hearings until mid-October. That’s a request that should be ignored, says Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown.

Writes Brown:

When federal prosecutors make a request, it’s not a good idea to ignore them. After all, they indict people for a living.

But in the case of the U.S. Department of Justice asking state legislators to temporarily stand down in their investigation of Gov. Pat Quinn’s troubled anti-violence program, I think this is one instance where the proper response is to respectfully decline.

[W]ith an election for governor looming in November, I’d argue the public’s need to sort out the facts about what went wrong with the program outweighs the need for prosecutors to keep their potential witnesses from saying something that could make their work harder.

Citi Group settlement Illinois

It’s not all about bad news in Illinois today, though. In a bit of good news the state of Illinois is $84 million richer after a $7 billion national settlement with Citigroup was reached.

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sandra Guy reports:

The national settlement stems from the bank’s marketing and sale of securities made up of subprime mortgages, which fueled the boom and bust that triggered the Great Recession in 2007.

In Illinois, the settlement includes $40 million in as-yet-unspecified consumer relief as well as money for blight reduction. An independent monitor will be appointed to oversee the relief distribution.

Citigroup also will pay $44 million to the Illinois Teachers Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, and the Illinois State Board of Investment, which oversees the State Employees’ Retirement System, General Assembly Retirement System and Judges’ Retirement System.

Next article: Here are seven things voters must question and study before the November elections


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  4. Yes for Independent Maps campaign manager Michael Kolenc explains the effort and why redistricting reform is needed in this op-ed.
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