News

Expert: Illinois Politics Cleaner Despite Ongoing Convictions

Expert: Illinois Politics Cleaner Despite Ongoing Convictions

Photo: Associated Press/Seth Perlman

Despite the bribery conviction of State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago), a reformer says Illinois politics is getting cleaner.

It’s a slow process, says Andy Shaw, president of the Better Government Association, but he says we’re at the point where a politician taking bribes is shocking and abnormal, and no longer business as usual.

“It takes a long time to un-do such a rotten, corrupt system, but I think that’s under way, and so yes, Derrick Smith is another tragedy, but I think that there are fewer Derrick Smiths today than ever before, and that’s a sign of progress,” he said.

Smith was convicted Tuesday in federal court in Chicago of bribery and extortion for agreeing to take a $7,000 bribe from a day care operator in exchange for a letter of support for a $50,000 state grant. The day care operation turned out to be an FBI sting.

Smith, who was kicked out of the General Assembly when he was indicted in 2012, was elected to return to his seat later that year. Now, upon conviction, he gets booted out again, though his time was short anyway since he lost the Democratic primary in March.

Shaw says the pressure for politicians to behave better is coming from prosecutors, editorial writers and groups like his, but he says the real responsibility lies with voters to elect a better caliber of person to office.

Recent Headlines

in Local

Davis: Super Bowl Sunday = Human Trafficking

davis

Unforgettable story from a survivor

in Local

Redfield: Local Right-to-Work Zone Sounds New

labor day parade

Could be diversion from Rauner's real remedy, professor suggests

in Local

Rauner to UI: Cut Bloat, Then I’ll Help

university illinois

State of the State preview hits Champaign

in Local

Manar, Scherer Introduce High Speed Rail Legislation

High-speed rail confrence (2)

A couple of local lawmakers are trying to put some teeth into a high speed rail agreement that will benefit Springfield minority communities.

in Local

Springfield Metro Unemployment Level Lowest Since 2007

unemployment

The Springfield metro area has recorded another drop in unemployment.