During the press conference after the governor's arrest Tuesday, Robert Grant, the chief of the FBI's Chicago office, said, "If Illinois isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it sure is one hell of a competitor."
It looks like the crooked old Chicago political machine is alive and well, but as a proud New Englander, I would like to make the case for my home state of Connecticut being the most corrupt in the country. We too have had a governor carted off to prison, as well as many, many mayors of some of our largest cities. Here are some of the latest and greatest betrayers of the public trust:
- Phil Giordano, former mayor of the "Brass City," Waterbury, CT, currently serving a 37-year prison term for corruption and various horrid sex crimes, has had his appeals denied, though he did try to recover, while in prison, $61,000 he said the city owed him for unpaid vacation and sick days. Now that takes some brass ones. Giordano was the fourth mayor of Waterbury to be sent to prison.
- In other Waterbury news, former Governor John Rowland, released in 2006 from federal prison, where he had been serving a one-year sentence for corruption - he handed out lucrative state road construction contracts in exchange for free renovations to his summer home - has been named head of the Waterbury Development Corporation by the mayor.
- Former state treasurer Paul Silvester pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks in the form of campaign contributions in 1999 and later became a star witness in other corruption trials. He served four years in prison.
- Joe Ganim, the former mayor of Connecticut's largest city, Bridgeport, was convicted in 2003 of 16 felony counts of racketeering, bribery and corruption and setenced to nine years in prison. As Ganim's inevitable indictment approached, the cousin of a friend of mine had to take "an extended vacation to Italy" until things blew over - he worked for a construction company that didn't exactly make a bid to get some city contracts.
- Connecticut state senate minority leader Louis DeLuca was forced to resign last year after he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal threatening. He had solicited the services of known mobster ("waste disposal entrepreneur") James Galante, of Danbury, to rough up his granddaughter's husband, who had been abusing her (sort of like when Sonny roughs up Connie's husband for beating her in The Godfather - of course, he eventually got garotted for plotting Sonny's assissination).
- Finally moving to another fine competitor for the title of most corrupt state, Rhode Island, Providence's former mayor Buddy Cianci - recently released after serving four and a half years in the federal clink - is now a popular radio show host, and he likes to make a lot of jokes about how the current mayor is gay. What a rube!