Does Illinois deserve its reputation as one of the most politically corrupt states in America?
Yes, according to Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson, authors of the recently published book Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Corruption. “Our conclusions are inescapable,” Simpson says. “Illinois is among the top three most corrupt states, and Chicago is undoubtedly the most corrupt city.”
Gradel and Simpson will discuss the book’s findings on Wednesday, April 1, at Elmhurst College. The event, which begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be held in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center, is co-sponsored by the Elmhurst College Urban Studies Program and the Citizen Advocacy Center. Admission is free, and the public is invited. Copies of the book will be sold at the event.
For their book, the authors spent seven years researching and documenting political corruption in Chicago, Cook County, the Chicago suburbs, Springfield, and other Downstate cities and towns. Their research took them back to 1833, when two ineligible residents voted for trustees during Chicago’s original incorporation as a town.
Gradel, a freelance writer and political researcher, worked for 35 years as a political media consultant and served on the staff of former Illinois Governor Dan Walker. Simpson, a former Chicago alderman as well as a former congressional candidate, teaches political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Corrupt Illinois was published in February by the University of Illinois Press.
Central to the authors’ analysis is the role that political machines have played in fostering a culture of corruption, no matter which party has been in charge. Gradel and Simpson assert that corruption thrives when political leaders wield monopoly power and face little or no public accountability.
Gradel and Simpson’s talk is well timed for voters participating in the consolidated election that will take place throughout Illinois on April 7.
“We hope the book’s content and message will alert voters to look closely at the candidates,” Simpson says. “What’s their ethical track record? Are they part of a corrupt machine or political organization? Who gives them campaign money?”
For more information, call Maryam Judar, executive director of the Citizen Advocacy Center, at (630) 833-4080; or Constance Mixon, director of the Urban Studies Program at Elmhurst College, at (630) 617-3569.