No larceny in his blood
The merry-go-round of official wrongdoing goes round and round.
Corruption is so common in Illinois politics, it almost, but not quite, ceases to be news.
So it's time to point out the latest, but certainly not the last, episode of legislators gone wild and, as a result, indicted.
Chicago state Rep. LaShawn Ford was hit with a 17-count federal indictment last week in connection with a $500,000 credit extension from a failed bank, ShoreBank. Ford allegedly falsified his income statements to the bank in the loan process but then used a large portion of the proceeds for personal expenditures instead of his real estate business.
Ford was not exactly contrite, calling the charges against him "ridiculous" and asserting his faith in his own fundamental good character. "There's no bank fraud in my blood," said Ford.
Well, maybe not in his blood. But the bank records the feds examined were not nearly as exculpatory.
The indictment charges that instead of using the loan proceeds for his real estate business, the point of his loan extension, Ford spent it on cars, credit cards as well as gambling and campaign expenses. Well, at least he didn't waste it.
Ford is now the second member of the Illinois House under indictment. State Rep. Derrick Smith, another Chicago Democrat, is charged with bribery in connection with an illegal scheme to win a state grant. Smith was thrown out of the House after his indictment but re-elected by voters in November.
Soon-to-be indicted is former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who recently resigned from Congress after acknowledging that he's under federal investigation for stealing many thousands of dollars from his campaign fund. Jackson is cooperating with authorities, and news reports in Chicago indicate he's telling investigators about wrongdoing by others so he can minimize his time behind bars.
There's more. Chicago Alderman William Beavers, who comes from the old school of politics and candidly admits he's in the game to help himself and his family, is charged with income tax evasion.
His defense: when Beavers discovered he was under federal investigation for tax evasion, he amended his tax returns and paid what he owed. So, he asks, what's the problem?
Can't imagine. It's been this way forever in Illinois politics. Old habits don't die hard. In fact, they don't die.