Yesterday at Forbes.com, Illinois political reformer Adam Andrzejewski asked why Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan refuses to prosecute public corruption. The answer is simple: she doesn’t want to–and not enough people care.
He writes, “She’s allowed felons to serve in municipal office; out-of-towners to serve as city alderman; many politicians to hold multiple – and conflicting – offices; a junior college to award more than $4 million in compensation to its president without a lawful board vote; and much more…”
When Lisa Madigan, daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, ran for attorney general in 2002, she vowed, “It’s time that Illinois’ highest legal official takes an active, hands-on role in cleaning up government. And I will not let them down.”
What happened? Well, gullible voters believed her, and she got elected. A lot of politicians in Illinois run on promises of reform because Illinois’ politics is widely seen (rightly so) as corrupt. But then once they get into office, no one holds them accountable for these promises. Certainly not the media, and definitely not the voters, who continue to re-elect them year after year.
According to Andrzejewski, after ten years in office, Madigan has prosecuted only 14 public officials for corruption: half for DUI, reckless driving, or substance possession. She lost close to half of those cases.
In Illinois, citizens are allowed to file a Quo Warranto application with the attorney general if he or she documents wrongdoing by public officials. 19 of these have been filed in the past two years. Madigan has denied every single one.
While this is shocking on its own, it’s equally appalling that so few have been filed. Where are all the reporters and Illinois citizens doing their duty to expose corruption and illegal activity on the part of their public officials? Many of these complaints are cut and dried (for example, an alderman living outside city limits) and could be solved without much legal hassle.
Until Illinois citizens are willing to hold their public officials accountable, both in the courtroom and at the ballot box, nothing will change.