The final day in office for Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) is Tuesday, March 31. The co-author of a book about the state's shady political history said Schock is far from the first Illinois politician to leave office in disgrace.
“From 1976 to 2012 we’ve had nearly 2,000 public officials be convicted of public corruption. And they haven’t all been in Chicago. They’ve been in the suburbs and they’ve been downstate,” said Dick Simpson, who also said the history of corruption in Illinois dates back more than 150 years.
Schock is being investigated by the Federal Election Commission and the FBI. He’s accused of misreporting mileage for reimbursement by the government. Simpson said it’s very difficult to hide that crime.
Simpson said Schock is also being investigated for real estate deals with campaign contributors.
“He became wealthy by doing deals with people who were his campaign supporters. And this creates the kind of ‘pay-to-play’ system that got Blagojevich convicted,” Simpson said.
“It is the most likely one to end up with criminal trial.”
Simpson said Schock likely faces prison time if convicted of any of the crimes.
“Judges are not inclined to be lenient with politicians who are caught with public corruption.”
Simpson and Thomas Gradel wrote Corrupt Illinois (University of Illinois Press). Simpson ran unsuccessful campaigns in the early 1990s in Democratic primaries against another corrupt Illinois politician, Congressman Dan Rostenkowski.
Rostenkowski was considered one of the most powerful and influential members of Congress before he was convicted of fraud in a House post office scandal. He served 15 months in federal prison.
Simpson said numerous Illinois politicians have run for office after being convicted of corruption and serving prison time. None of them won election.
“Most of them have been (in smaller positions) like aldermen who went off to federal prison for corruption, came back, ran again, and in fact were not successful,” Simpson said.
Corrupt Illinois offers recommendations for ending the culture of corruption in the state. He said a bill pending in the Legislature requires schools to teach civics. The authors also recommend public funding of elections, term limits, a fair remapping process, and more.