With the start of a new year, the FBI's top agent in Chicago sent out an unusual message, ostensibly to his superiors in Washington, D.C..
"We asked headquarters to give us more bodies," the FBI's Robert Grant told the Chicago Sun-Times.
It seems, according to Grant, that the FBI has more business than it can handle, particularly as it relates to allegations of public corruption in state and local government. The FBI's Chicago office just added its third public corruption squad, each consisting of eight to 12 agents, in September, and that's more than Los Angeles and New York City. Then again, when it comes to political corruption, Chicago and the state of Illinois are in a league of their own.
But, one wonders, why would the FBI publicize its need for more resources and announce that "there are areas we want to explore that we haven't even gotten to yet"?
Perhaps, it's to let the bad guys who think they may have been overlooked know that they're not safe and that it would be in their interest to cooperate now rather than wait for FBI agents to show up on their doorstep.
It's hardly a secret that Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, is turning politics upside down in Illinois with his relentless corruption probes. Former Gov. George Ryan is on trial and while the administrations of current Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley are under investigation. Scores of individuals already have been convicted in a variety of ongoing investigations, and more will join them in the coming months. Meanwhile, the feds keep targeting new political entities, most recently the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, for scrutiny.
Obviously, there's no shortage of things for investigators to do and no lack of prosecutorial will to do them, and that's a combination that should make the coming year interesting to watch unfold.