Digital Access

Digital Access
Access saukvalley.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from SaukValley.com, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
The Holiday Gift Auction is Live! Click here and bid now on great local gifts!
Local Editorials

Corrupt politicians? Book ’em!

Another day, another Illinois politician in legal trouble. We keep waiting for the final chapter to be written in the state’s long history of political corruption. After a serious charge was filed against former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., we’re still waiting.

Another chapter has been written in Illinois’ long, sordid history of political corruption.

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Chicago Democrat, was charged Friday with one count of conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say Jackson conspired to convert $750,000 in campaign funds to his personal use.

Caught up in the scheme was Jackson’s wife, Sandra, who was charged with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns from 2006 to 2011. Prosecutors say Mrs. Jackson knowingly understated the couple’s income.

The Jacksons agreed to plead guilty. Both face the possibility of prison time. Both have quit their elective positions – Jackson as an 18-year member of the House, and Mrs. Jackson as a Chicago alderwoman.

Thus, the once-promising political career of the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson has come to an ignominious end.

Details of former Rep. Jackson’s problems border on the bizarre. Prosecutors say he spent money on a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex men’s watch and furs for his wife, but also on memorabilia from celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Jackson’s health problems – he’s being treated for bipolar disorder and other issues – may have led him to make poor choices.

But Illinois’ culture of political corruption likely played a role.

Illinois is a breeding ground for politicians who simply don’t believe the rules apply to them.

Laws exist that ban the conversion of campaign money to personal use. Jackson knowingly disobeyed them.

He joins a rogues gallery of other disgraced Illinois political lawbreakers, including four ex-governors – Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, Dan Walker and Otto Kerner – who also didn’t think the rules applied to them.

When will it all end?

When will crooked politicians no longer plague our state?

When will Illinoisans no longer be a national laughingstock?

Clearly, stronger laws governing ethics and transparency are needed. Those reforms are up to the Legislature and Congress.

Just as important, the fear of certain prosecution when laws are broken must be spread far and wide among government officials.

Some politicians apparently still believe that, even if investigated and charged, they can bargain their way out of the serious consequences of political corruption.

With their investigation of the Jacksons, federal prosecutors have disproved that belief once again.

So, corruption-minded politicians have a choice. They can change their ways voluntarily, or they can do so involuntarily – behind bars.

If judges throw the book at enough crooked politicians, maybe more will play by the book, and the book can finally be closed on a shameful era.

Loading more