Friday, March 21, 2008

Blagojevich Inc., a $57.8 million corporation

Rod Blagojevich$57.8m6.5$8.9m
George Ryan$24.4m29$0.8m
Jim Ryan$21.1m13$1.6m
Judy Baar Topinka$15.4m27$0.6m
Jim Edgar$9.2m22$0.4m
Glenn Poshard$5.1m2$2.6m
Dawn Clark Netsch$2.4m20$0.1m

Columnists in town are trying to find meaning in the massive corruption trial of Tony Rezko and the Rod Blagojevich administration. Some want to focus on bi-partisan participation and others the drug habits of key witness Stuart Levine. They are all missing the point. The real meaning of the corruption trial can be found in the chart above.

There has never been anything like the Blagojevich money operation in Illinois. They made any other pay-to-play apparatus look like a lemonade stand.

Blagojevich's two top fundraising captains, Rezko and the similarly indicted Chris Kelly, opened the spigots fully and used all governmental powers they could think of to reward big donors. Giving the Blagojevich administration a big campaign contribution thus became one of the best investment opportunities in America because of the guaranteed exponential return.

"I had been involved in politics and in corrupt deals before," Levine testified. "[But] I had never witnessed or been a part of or close to someone who was able to influence the governor as I saw that Mr. Rezko could. I had never been that close to an individual that had that type of power."

There have always been insiders lurking around the halls of government, waiting to pounce on the spoils if they are allowed. It takes an honest and attentive chief executive to stop the graft. The chart above shows that Illinois has had no such chief executive the last five years.

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