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Chicago Is Once Again The Most Corrupt City In The US, According To New Study

The year 2019 "was a highly explosive year, during which some of the most important political corruption in the history of Chicago and Illinois was exposed," the report states.

File Photo: The Chicago skyline seen from Museum Campus in January 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Oops, Chicago did it again.

Chicago continues to be the most corrupt city in the United States, and Illinois is the third-most corrupt state, according to a new report by University of Illinois at Chicago professor and former Ald. Dick Simpson.

The report is based on an analysis of 2019 public corruption statistics published by the U.S. Department of Justice. The feds recorded 26 total corruption convictions in the Chicago-based Northern District, and an additional six were recorded across the state in 2019, according to WTTW.

“The statistics do not completely reflect it, but 2019 was a highly explosive year, during which some of the most important political corruption in the history of Chicago and Illinois was exposed,” Simpson and co-authors Marco Rosaire Rossi and Thomas J. Gradel wrote.

Because of pending cases, the authors said the Department of Justice’s public corruption conviction statistics for 2019 did “not come close to capturing the significance of that year’s corruption events.” 

“Bombshell corruption news reports that year dethroned the city’s most powerful alderman, upset Chicago’s mayoral election campaign, torpedoed the most powerful and well-known candidate, and threatened the political existence of Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and Chairman of the State Democratic Party, Michael Madigan,” the report states.

In January 2019, the FBI filed a federal complaint charging longtime Ald. Ed Burke (14th) and then-chairman of the powerful Finance Committee with attempted extortion.

Later that month, the Sun-Times revealed then-Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of powerful Committee on Zoning, wore a wire for the feds, recording Burke over a two-year period. He was pressured to do so after he was confront by the feds about his own alleged wrongdoing. The feds alleged Solis received sex acts at massage parlors, the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra and campaign contributions in exchange for ushering deals through City Council.

Then, the Sun-Times received a federal affidavit showing the FBI secretly recorded then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan trying to get business for his law firm from a developer brought to him by Ald. Solis. Madigan has not been charged and he has said he is not under investigation, according to the report.

In March 2019, Alaina Hampton filed a federal sexual harassment lawsuit against the
Democratic Party of Illinois, the Democratic Majority, the 13th Ward
Democratic Organization, and Friends of Michael J. Madigan, according to the report. She accused Kevin Quinn, a Madigan aide and brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) of sending her “a barrage of unwanted messages and phone calls in pursuit of a romantic and sexual relationship,” the corruption report states. She settled the suit in November 2019, and Quinn was fired by Madigan.

In May 2019, the feds raided City Club’s offices, seeking documents related to ComEd, according to WBEZ.

“Much more of the Madigan-ComEd scheme would unfold in 2020,” the report states.

Madigan resigned from his house seat on Thursday and resigned as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party on Monday.

In May 2019, then-Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and obstruction of justice. He was jailed this year after being charged with drunken driving, which violated his bond.

In June 2019, the feds raided Ald. Carrie Austin’s 34th Ward office.

Also that month, former Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges.

The Department of Justice’s data contains statistics from 1976 through the end of 2019. During that time period, Chicago had a total of 1,770 public corruption convictions or an average of 41 per year. 

By comparison, Los Angeles has seen 1,588 cases, while the New York City borough of Manhattan saw 1,361.

Read the full report here.

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