Ambrosio Medrano's understanding of how government operates says much — none of it good — about how far astray Illinois has gone.
While a Hispanic by birth and a Chicagoan by residence, Ambrosio Medrano is an Illinois politician through and through.
So it's instructive to examine the career of a politician federal prosecutors have described as "incorrigibly corrupt." Medrana's case says so much about the seamy underbelly of politics in Illinois and the games that are played when outsiders seek contracts for government work.
Who is Medrano? He's a former Chicago alderman, a onetime close associate and strong supporter of former Mayor Richard M. Daley and a man dedicated to making his living by feeding at the public trough.
Last week in Chicago, Medrano pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud in connection with a bribery scheme to win a contract selling bandages to Stroger Hospital in Chicago.
Earlier this year, he was convicted of corruption charges in connection with an effort to win a mail-order pharmaceutical contract with the Cook County Hospital system.
Seventeen years ago, Medrano was one of six members of the Chicago City Council implicated in a bribery sting operation overseen by the FBI — Operation Silver Shovel it was called.
After Medrano served 30 months in prison for his first conviction, he made two unsuccessfuly runs for public office. Now he faces more time — considerably more if the feds get their way — on his two more recent convictions.
The feds describe Medrano as a man who considers bribery as "just part of the government process" in the awarding of lucrative contracts. They made that statement as if Medrano's approach is a perverse interpretation of how business is done in Illinois.
Well, Medrano's viewpoint is perverse, but it's also substantially accurate
Illinois' relentlessly corrupt politics has exacted a terrible price on this state. Too many people make too much money by gaming the system, particularly with respect to government contracts. The public pays the bill.
Medrano's serial corruptions may strike some as odd, but it's only because he made the mistake of getting caught over and over again. He's no outlier.