Otto von Bismarck, the great 19th century German statesman and aristocrat, once remarked that laws are like sausages: it’s better not to see them being made.
In the case of disgraced ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, the sausage factory he was allegedly running out of the governor’s office included such a long laundry list of “pay-to-play” schemes, kickbacks, bid rigging, and laundered money, that cleaning up the state’s political reputation could take years.
Simply put, Governor Blagojevich became a golden goose of opportunity for well-connected businessmen in the state who were apparently willing to “buy” the governor’s unwavering personal attention for their pet legislative causes. And while Patrick Quinn, Illinois’ new governor, remarked last week that “everybody knows we’ve had a tough eight weeks, but it’s over,” it’s not. Springfield must now work overtime to unravel the mess the ex-governor and his well-connected business friends created, or Illinois will rightly deserve its reputation as the most corrupt state in the country.
Case in point: Legislation signed by Governor Blagojevich not once but twice, which required the state’s four top-earning casinos to give 3% of their gross adjusted annual revenues to Blagojevich’s horse racing cronies. Reasonable people can certainly disagree on the merits of gaming, but the governor’s personal crusade in 2006 and then again last year to tax one industry to prop up another was simply bizarre and left the citizens of Illinois scratching their collective noggins.