From my own backyard. Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to fourteen years in prison on various charges of corruption including attempting to sell President Obama’s Senate Seat for $1.5 million in campaign contributions and personal favors.
While I bleed no tears for Blagojevich, this is the latest ugly episode for Illinois politics. Blagojevich’s predecessor George Ryan is still serving a prison sentence for racketeering and fraud. This type of behavior is largely embodied by the strong hold that Chicago-area politics continues to hold over the state, despite the supposed breaking of many of the big political machines during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
The seemingly harsh Blagojevich sentence may be more a symptom of the times, rather than a statement against corruption. With the current climate of anger at Wall Street and big corporate interests that have rotted America, judges may find themselves under increasing pressure to take a stand against government corruption and the prevalence of pay to play politics and other seedy exercises that occur within the political arena.
Will this sentence have an impact on the activities of corrupt politicians? Not likely, because there will always be politicians who believe that they can get away with it. Quite often, the organs of justice allow such behavior to continue, and in some cases encourage it. Rod Blagojevich was just the unfortunate politician who was confronted with a stiff corruption fighting prosecutor in the form of Patrick Fitzgerald.