Considering that local State’s Attorneys seem to be hamstrung when they go after fellow officeholders, perhaps my title is too harsh.
After all, throughout my lifetime, it has been pretty much the U.S. Attorney’s Office and newspapers that have gone after corruption.
(I’m remembering the exposure of Cook County Assessor P.J. Cullerton’s favoritism by Chicago Today. The rumor mill had it that Cullerton got so disturbed that he walked into the Tribune Tower, saying, “Nice building you have here.” Shortly thereafter, the Tribune-owned Chicago Today backed off. In this case, as you will see if you read the linked paper by Thomas Gradel, former Chicago Alderman Richard Simpson and Tom Kelly, a Republican Cook County Sheriff, Joe Woods, was also involved in the investigation. So was the BGA.)
When the U.S. Attorney convicts a crook, he/she goes to a Federal prison.
The favorite one for Illinois politicians is near Wisconsin Dells. (The family’s kids can hang out at the water parks while the wife/husband visits.)
But, that’s the problem.
Incarceration in what local pols call “Club Fed” is not as big a threat as getting put in what Illinois euphemistically call “correctional facilities.”
Any reasonably bright Illinois politician knows that going to state prison is not something to be looked forward to.
Fortunately for the crooks, it is rare for the Cook County or any other state’s attorney to prosecute local or state politicians. (Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has done more than her predecessors, but her efforts can be compared to dipping one’s toes in the water. What would happen if she really waded in? She probably wouldn’t get re-elected.)
If the Feds would begin trading local Federal politician prisoners for Illinois state prisoners, a deterrent effect might develop.
This is not as absurd a suggestion as one might think.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has Federal prisoners and the Federal system has state prisoners, traded for various reasons.
Such trading isn’t done for deterrent purposes, however.
Another approach that might succeed would be for the Illinois Attorney General to go after governmental corruption.
Not much chance of that happening as long as the Attorney General’s father is House Speaker Mike Madigan, however.