From the Chicago Tribune Thursday morning summary:
Chicago is open for business for businesses who have bribed city officials.
That is so different from what Illinois state government’s rules.
Back in the 1970’s when legislators were being charged with accepting bribes from a lobbyist of Material Service, the gravel and concrete company with huge holdings in McHenry County, a Chicago Democrat named Ron Stearney introduced a bill that would prohibit companies from doing business with state government if it or its employees had been convicted of bribing a state employee.
I asked him what he was trying to do and, after learning of the Material Service angle, I pointed out that neither the company nor any of its employees had been convicted of that crime.
They company, however, had admitted to the behavior in a deal engineered by former U.S. Attorney Jim Thompson which gave the company corporate immunity. (At the time I heard that was the first time in U.S. history that a firm had received corporate immunity.)
We changed the bill to include admission of bribery under oath and it sailed out of the House and Senate.
A license plate manufacturer from Arkansas, as I remember the case, sued, but the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the law.
In effect, state law says, “We give you one chance. If you bribe or try to bribe a state officials, you’ll not get a second chance.”
Imagine my surprise when I saw Material Service trucks delivering concrete along the Tri-State Tollway in 1982.
Upon investigation, I found that Attorney General Bill Scott had issued an opinion that incorporated the concept of “material man” to justify allowing Material Service to continue doing business with the state.
Other road building companies just reorganized to continue their state contracts.
But on the last state contract I saw there was a line saying that the signed had not bribed or admitted bribing state officials.
In Chicago, the epicenter of Illinois corruption, however, if you’ve bribed a city official, no problem.
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The comments under the Tribune story are hilarious.