The Use of Threats and Blackmail to Get Votes and Endorsements

The thoughts in this article have been swirling in my brain for several years.

But, I have to admit that the Sheriff’s race here in McHenry County is what brought my fingers to the keyboard.

For those of you watching the “House of Cards” series you will probably learn nothing new.

If it happens in Washington, why would anyone be surprised if it happened in Springfield or McHenry County.

The Illinois State Capitol

The Illinois State Capitol

When I was a freshman State Representative in 1973, the Chicago Democrats assigned one of their new reapportionment reps. to make friends with a new Republican member of the chamber.

My Democrat was Walt Kozubowski.

When I was trying to get money from State Motor Fuel Taxes to improve unincorporated subdivision roads after George Lindberg’s pre-1970 State Constitution bill had been struck down, he asked if I’d allow an amendment to the bill that would allow Chicago money to be used to repair sidewalks.

I couldn’t see why not, so I accepted his amendment.

That brought the wrath of Republican House Speaker Bob Blair down my neck, but that was back in the days when a sponsor controlled his bill…unlike today.

The bill’s passage brought Cook County Board President George Dunne to ask Walt about “that young reformer” who brought money that Dunne could spend.

During the 1970’s he came up to me and observed that he and I could be the only representatives that were faithful to our wives.  (Later he went on to be Richard Daley’s 1991 choice for City Clerk and got caught up in a ghost payrolling scheme that led to Federal prison.)

The point I am taking too long to get around to is that Springfield is not only intensely political, it is intensely sexual.

“It’s the closest thing to college,” I overheard one male Republican say.

He was the one whose car I saw parked early one morning near the condo I rented while working in the Department of Central Management Services after I lost my quest to become State Comptroller.

“Springfield wives” wait for their lovers to come to town.

One does not have to go to the residence of a lover, of course.

When I was staying at one of the low-cost hotels during the 1970’s, the walls were so thin I recognized the voice of the State Senator who had rented the room next door for a fling.

And there was a song in the musical “Boss,” developed from Mike Royko’s book, one line of which was about “the girls who keep their jobs with their tails.”

I asked around after I saw it and was told it might refer to the lobbying practices of a telephone company who recruited good looking young women from small Illinois towns with the enticement of seeing the “big city” of Springfield.

And, speaking of lobbying, during the fight about the Equal Rights Amendment, one staunch opponent, a Republican, changed his vote after he went out with a proponent.

No legislator who noted the flip-flop in position expressed the viewpoint that a quid pro quo couldn’t possibly have changed his vote.

When one is a senior enough member, one gets a couch.  I got a report last fall that two Democrats were using such an arrangement in the Stratton Office Building.  

There are two of my contemporaries who had absolutely lovely wives whom they divorced to marry someone else, in one case a colleague.  Both went onto higher office.

I got reports that a legislative leader threw orgies.

One reason was supposed to be photos that were taken were used to garner votes when a legislator did not want to comply with the leader’s wishes.

I can think of  no reason that the sexual angle to State Capitol politics would have changed drastically over the years.

Blackmail worked then and it undoubtedly still does.

There is, of course, more than one leverage point for unscrupulous politicians.

If people get into financial or legal problems in which a powerful person can be of assistance, there is really no reason that when an endorsement for a candidate is sought that blackmail won’t work as well as a photo a person doesn’t want to surface.

Because of the nature of this story, no comments will be allowed.

Comments are closed.