Chicago politicians target ‘Chicago-style’ politics

“The Obama … people are pigs,” former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) could be heard snarling to his chief of staff. “[They] ain’t giving us anything.”

This gem of a clip from late 2008 was played for the first time last Thursday by prosecutors in the retrial of the former Illinois governor on corruption charges. But it could also serve as a great example of why Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley (Ill.) and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) teamed up Monday to fight corruption with two new bills.

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The two veteran Chicago politicians announced that the bills were designed to “target political clout and unethical conduct by public servants,” according to a joint statement.

The first measure would close a loophole in state highway contracts. The second would seek to restore a definition of corruption struck down by the Supreme Court last year, a ruling that forced prosecutors to drop certain charges against Blagojevich. 

Specifically, those charges concerned “undisclosed conflicts of interest resulting in personal financial gain.” In a lucky break for Blago, the Supreme Court said these didn’t constitute fraud by a public official.

“Public corruption has turned the ‘Land of Honest Abe’ into the ‘Land of Public Corruption,’ ” Kirk said, which hardly came as news to anyone following the Blagojevich trials.

Quigley described the bills as “a bipartisan effort to use every tool at our disposal to make sure both our elected officials and the business they conduct are honest.”