WBEZ | corruption http://www.wbez.org/tags/corruption Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Combating corruption in India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-02/combating-corruption-india-110884 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120325014328.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>India has faced an uphill battle in fighting corruption. But several months ago it passed legislation to protect whistleblowers. Public interest attorney Prashant Bhusan joins us to discuss whether the new law is having an impact.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india/embed?header=false&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-combating-corruption-in-india" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Combating corruption in India" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-10-02/combating-corruption-india-110884 Former aide to Ald. Joe Moore details ethics violations http://www.wbez.org/news/former-aide-ald-joe-moore-details-ethics-violations-108160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Joe Moore.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A former aide to Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th) is speaking out about ethical violations that she claims she witnessed when she worked in the alderman&rsquo;s office between 2006 and 2009. The claims, first detailed in a <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/olig/Documents/LIGrpt-Jul2013.pdf">report</a> released Monday by the city&rsquo;s legislative inspector general, have put the reform-minded alderman on the defensive.</p><p dir="ltr">Anne Sullivan joined Moore&rsquo;s re-election campaign shortly after she was let go as campaign manager for his rival, Don Gordon, in a runoff election. She later became a legislative aide in Moore&rsquo;s ward office, eventually specializing in housing matters.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan was terminated in November of 2009, and alleges the reason was that she sounded alarms over potentially illegal ethics violations in Moore&rsquo;s ward office. &ldquo;There was a paid city intern, a student intern, that was working at the front desk, like at the front door of the office,&rdquo; Sullivan told WBEZ, &ldquo;and they had him putting mailing labels on an invitation for a fundraiser for Toni Preckwinkle that Joe Moore was hosting at his home.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">City and state laws prohibit public servants from engaging in political activities that use government resources and property, and that are done on city time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I told the kid he shouldn&rsquo;t be doing that, and I emailed Joe Moore and told him about it,&rdquo; Sullivan continued. She claimed that Moore was away from the office that week, but that his Chief of Staff, Betsy Vandercook, initially disputed the veracity of Sullivan&rsquo;s claim. Vandercook did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said Moore told her that when he returned to his office, the staff would have a meeting to discuss the matter. &ldquo;But then we never had a staff meeting,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Instead, according to Sullivan, when Moore returned to his office he took her to a restaurant in Rogers Park and told her that she was terminated. He also offered Sullivan three-and-a-half months of pay, roughly $8,700. &ldquo;But for that I had to agree to walk away from the ward office, and not talk to anybody about anything that occurred in the ward office, or about anybody in the ward office, or badmouthing anybody,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said she had not accrued enough unused vacation time or overtime to justify the payment, but she claims she accepted it because she thought city employees were entitled to severance pay. Sullivan said she later called the city&rsquo;s human resources office and was told that the city of Chicago does not give severance pay to public employees.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hung up the phone and had a panic attack,&rdquo; Sullivan said. &ldquo;Because I felt like I had been set up, like I was now embroiled in something illegal, and I felt like Joe (Moore) knew that, and he had me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Sullivan said she called the City Inspector General&rsquo;s office to inquire if the payment was illegal, but dropped it because she didn&rsquo;t want to sign a formal complaint. But a year later, Sullivan said she spoke with the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois on the advice of a friend. She claimed that office helped arrange for two FBI agents to interview her.</p><p dir="ltr">The FBI declined to comment on whether it is investigating the alleged violations. Moore did acknowledge in an interview with WBEZ that he was interviewed by FBI agents about the matter.</p><p dir="ltr">But the alderman disputed much of Sullivan&rsquo;s account on Tuesday, starting with the allegation that an intern labeled political flyers in his ward office. &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t there and this is not something that I&rsquo;m familiar with,&rdquo; he said. Moore also said did not recall receiving any e-mail from Sullivan about the matter. Moore added that Sullivan often made allegations about staff members in his office, &ldquo;and almost all of them were unfounded,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She was a very disruptive influence in the office,&rdquo; said Moore. Others who worked with Sullivan on Moore&rsquo;s re-election campaign and in the ward office told WBEZ that she had a tendency to &ldquo;burn bridges&rdquo; with those around her, and that her working relationship with Moore was often tense.</p><p dir="ltr">Moore denied that he terminated Sullivan because of any allegations of illegal activity, but rather claimed it was for insubordination. &rdquo;I told her that things just weren&rsquo;t going well in the office with her, that I was going to have to let her go.&rdquo; He claimed the severance pay was for overtime hours.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the report that first revealed the alleged violations, Moore also paid taxpayer-funded severance in excess of unused vacation days to a former chief of staff, Kevin Cosgrove, amounting to $13,497. Cosgrove did not respond to WBEZ&rsquo;s request for comment.</p><p dir="ltr">The accusations against Moore were publicly aired on the same day the White House announced he was to be honored as &quot;a pioneer for political reform, governmental transparency and democratic governance.&quot; The progressive alderman, in office since 1991, was the first in the city to implement a constituent-driven budgeting process in his ward. According to <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Alderman-Accused-of-Ethics-Violation-Honored-at-White-House-216592541.html">news</a> <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&amp;id=9182730">reports</a> late Tuesday, the White House was withholding the honor in light of the pending investigation.</p><p dir="ltr">On Monday, Moore emailed <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/737899-statement-of-ald-joe-moore-1-7-22-13.html">a written statement</a> to the media, denying any misconduct, and calling the office of Faisal Khan, the Legislative Inspector General &ldquo;run amok with a lack of professionalism...&rdquo; Moore also claimed Khan never interviewed him about the allegations, which Khan disputes.</p><p dir="ltr">The complaint against Moore was among 132 filed with Khan&rsquo;s office between July 2012 and July 2013, of which 25 were investigated. Khan said that&rsquo;s far more than were filed in the previous year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s more public awareness as to the existence of this office,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Now since we&rsquo;ve been out trying to raise awareness of this office, allowing the taxpayers and the citizens of Chicago to come forward and speak to us, I think that&rsquo;s a reasonable explanation as to why these numbers have increased.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The investigations now go to the city&rsquo;s Board of Ethics.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 07:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-aide-ald-joe-moore-details-ethics-violations-108160 Report on alleged misconduct rankles aldermen http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The office that investigates claims of misconduct by Chicago aldermen has released a new report, prompting a round of criticism from some members of City Council. The <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/olig/Documents/LIGrpt-Jul2013.pdf">18-page report</a> is the second released by Legislative Inspector General Faisal Khan since the city council established that office by ordinance in 2010.</p><p>The report looks at 132 complaints filed between July 2012 and July 2013, of which 25 were investigated. The report elaborates on a handful of complaints in more detail, though no aldermen are named.</p><p>In one case, an alderman allegedly took more campaign donations from a contributor than permitted. Another investigation claims an alderman instructed a police officer to write two traffic summonses to a person who had gotten into a parking dispute with the alderman&rsquo;s sister-in-law.</p><p>Members of the City Council&rsquo;s Progressive Caucus demurred from commenting on specific examples cited in the study, saying they hadn&rsquo;t yet seen the report. Still, several accused Khan of releasing the study to the media before it was available to the public &ndash; a claim that Khan denies.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s got to be coming out of his office,&rdquo; said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), &ldquo;he needs to be more tight-lipped on the approach that he&rsquo;s taking.&rdquo; Several aldermen said they believe Khan&rsquo;s office should be dissolved, and that aldermanic oversight could be given to City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, who already has jurisdiction over city employees.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s interesting that they&rsquo;re focused more on the confidentiality and the city inspector general office rather than the substantive facts of these reports,&rdquo; Khan told WBEZ Monday.</p><p>Council members specifically declined to comment on one <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/22901456/ald-joe-moore-accused-of-ethics-violations-by-ig-inspector-general#ixzz2ZoIAqPln">alleged abuse of power</a> that <a href="http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/07/21/reform-ald-joe-moore-caught-ethics-probes">WTTW&rsquo;s &ldquo;Chicago Tonight&quot;</a> first reported on Sunday. In the story &lsquo;multiple sources&rsquo; named Joe Moore (49th) as the alderman who allegedly allowed campaign work to be done from his ward office, then paid off a former aide to stay silent about it.</p><p>First elected to the City Council in 1991, the reform-minded North Side alderman fired off a written statement on Monday denying any such misconduct. It said &ldquo;the issues involved were personnel matters--not political ones&rdquo; and came from a &ldquo;disgruntled former employee.&rdquo; Khan&rsquo;s office was &ldquo;run amok with a lack of professionalism...&rdquo; the statement continued, and according to Moore never interviewed him about the allegations.</p><p>Khan declined to confirm or deny the identity of any of the aldermen in the report.</p><p>The Office of the Legislative Inspector General has been criticized in the media for its expenditures, but in the newly-released report, Khan says his office has hired five part-time employees to help carry the workload. Their investigations now go to the city&rsquo;s Board of Ethics.</p><div><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></div></p> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 17:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-alleged-misconduct-rankles-aldermen-108148 Blagojevich appeals convictions, stiff sentence http://www.wbez.org/news/blagojevich-appeals-convictions-stiff-sentence-108062 <p><p>Lawyers for Rod&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;filed an appeal just before a midnight deadline Monday that challenges the imprisoned former Illinois governor&#39;s corruption conviction and 14-year prison term, including on grounds the trial judge allegedly committed a litany of errors.</p><div><p>The 100-plus page filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago comes more than two years after the Chicago Democrat&#39;s retrial and 16 months after he entered a federal prison in Colorado.</p><p>Jurors convicted&nbsp;Blagojevich, 56, of engaging in wide-ranging corruption, including that the two-term governor sought to profit from his power to appoint someone to the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama vacated to become president.</p><p>Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;most shocking crime in the eyes of most observers was no crime at all, the appeal contends.&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;was merely engaging in standard politics when he floated the idea of securing a U.S. Cabinet seat or ambassadorship for himself if he appointed Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat, it says. Neither Obama nor Jarrett have ever been accused of any wrongdoing in the case.</p><p>&quot;The record shows that&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;proposed exchange was an arm&#39;s length political deal, described by&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;as a political &#39;horse trade,&#39;&quot; the appeal says. It wasn&#39;t criminal &quot;because the political deal proposed by&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;was a proper and common exchange under our democratic system of government.&quot;</p><p>The appeal also points to what it says was a lack of evenhandedness by U.S. District Judge James Zagel throughout Blagojeivch&#39;s two trials.</p><p>It alleges Zagel gave&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;little choice but to testify at his retrial after repeatedly ruling arguments the defense viewed as crucial could only be broached byBlagojevich&nbsp;himself from the witness stand. Once on the stand, Zagel prohibited many of those statements, including&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;attempt to tell jurors he believed at the time that his actions were legal, it contends.</p><p>&quot;Had&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;been permitted to present his good-faith defense, it would have been a powerful defense, likely to produce an acquittal,&quot; his lawyers argue.</p><p>The appeal also blames Zagel for allowing a juror who allegedly expressed bias against&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;to remain on the jury despite defense attorneys&#39; objections. The appeal only referred to the panelist as Juror No. 174, saying he said aboutBlagojevich&nbsp;during jury selection, &quot;I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty.&quot;</p><p>The appeal also raises longstanding claims that Zagel barred FBI wiretap evidence that might have aided the defense, that he sided overwhelming with prosecutors and that he miscalculated the appropriate prison term for&nbsp;Blagojevich.</p><p>The appeal was filed about 30 minutes before midnight.</p><p>Blagojevich&nbsp;was convicted on 18 counts over two trials, jurors in the first deadlocking on all but one count. Taking the stand in the second, decisive trial in 2011,&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;insisted his talking about wanting to sell Obama&#39;s seat was just that &mdash; talk.</p><p>Zagel imposed a lengthy prison term at a sentencing hearing later in 2011, tellingBlagojevich&nbsp;he had abused voters&#39; trust and undermined the democratic process &quot;to do things that were only good for yourself.&quot;</p><p>Many observers at the time said&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;best hope on appeal wasn&#39;t that a higher court would overturn his convictions but that appellate judges would agree his sentence was too harsh.</p><p>Appeals can take years to play out, and defendants rarely prevail.</p><p>Another Illinois governor convicted for corruption, George Ryan, filed multiple appeals over years and lost every key ruling. The former Republican leader was recently released after more than five years in prison and seven months of home confinement.</p><p>Secret wiretaps of an often foul-mouthed&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;eager to earn big money were at the core of prosecutors&#39; case.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve got this thing and it&#39;s f------ golden,&quot; jurors heard&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;saying in one wiretapped conversation about Obama&#39;s vacated seat. &quot;And I&#39;m just not giving it up for f------ nothing.&quot;</p><p>As Inmate No. 40892-424 in the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood in suburban Denver,&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;life is highly regimented, including frequent head counts and having to wake at dawn.</p><p>In a Facebook posting this year,&nbsp;Blagojevich&#39;s&nbsp;wife, Patti, said her husband is spending time in prison teaching Civil War history and learning to play the guitar. She added that he frequently jogs around a quarter-mile prison track.</p><p>&quot;All that we have been left with is a aching hole in our lives,&quot; she added about herself and the couple&#39;s two daughters.</p><p>After the then-governor&#39;s Dec. 9, 2008 arrest,&nbsp;Blagojevich&nbsp;hit the talk show circuit to declare his innocence and to rail against prosecutors. He even appeared on Donald Trump&#39;s reality show, &quot;The Apprentice.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 16 Jul 2013 07:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/blagojevich-appeals-convictions-stiff-sentence-108062 Political turmoil in Egypt and rating corruption around the world http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-09/political-turmoil-egypt-and-rating-corruption-around-world-107995 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP111012035585.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss ongoing conflict in Egypt. Local Egyptians share their thoughts about protests. We learn about a report that takes a look at corruption around the world.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F100354664&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-political-turmoil-in-egypt-and-rating-co.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-political-turmoil-in-egypt-and-rating-co" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: Political turmoil in Egypt and rating corruption around the world" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 10:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2013-07-09/political-turmoil-egypt-and-rating-corruption-around-world-107995 Cook County Commissioner William Beavers corruption trial off to slow start http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-commissioner-william-beavers-corruption-trial-slow-start-106021 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/beavers and sam adam jr_130311.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County Commissioner William Beavers&rsquo; corruption trial got off to a slow start Monday.</p><p>Beavers and his attorneys appeared in court to go over some last minute details of the case. Some of the discussion was about jury selection, which now is scheduled to start Tuesday. Prosecutors also said they intend to bring up the commissioner&rsquo;s 2005 tax returns in their opening statements.</p><p>Judge James Zagel says he wants the jury to be anonymous until after the verdict because of the media attention.</p><p>After the hearing, Beavers told reporters he wants to testify because prosecutors quote &ldquo;tell some tall tales&rdquo; and he wants to straighten them out.</p><p>&ldquo;The problem here is you all think the government is so smart, that they can defeat everybody,&rdquo; Beavers said. &ldquo;Their thing is if you plead guilty. They try their best to get you to plead guilty. They don&rsquo;t win that many cases. They get people to plea. I&rsquo;m not pleading.&rdquo;</p><p>Beavers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tax-trial-outspoken-cook-county-pol-begins-monday-106007">is charged with</a> not paying taxes on campaign funds that he allegedly used for personal expenses.</p></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 14:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-commissioner-william-beavers-corruption-trial-slow-start-106021 Chicago's 2nd district has history of corruption http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-2nd-district-has-history-corruption-105721 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7040_AP808357641455-scr_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>They elected a Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar and ended up with a congressman who was convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker. They voted for the son of a famous civil rights leader and got someone who illegally spent campaign funds on everything from furniture to Bruce Lee memorabilia.</p><p>Call it Chicago corruption at its worst or simply uncanny coincidence, but residents of Illinois&#39; 2nd Congressional District haven&#39;t been represented in Congress in more than three decades by someone who didn&#39;t end up in serious ethical or legal trouble. That hangs over them as they go to the polls Tuesday for a special primary to begin picking a replacement for disgraced former U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr.</p><p>It began with Gus Savage, who took office in 1981 and was defeated a decade later after allegations of sexual misconduct with a Peace Corps worker while on a congressional visit abroad. Then there was Mel Reynolds, who won office in 1992 and was convicted of fraud and having sex with a minor. This past week, after 17 years in office, Jackson pleaded guilty to spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal expenses.</p><p>&quot;They all drank from the same cup,&quot; said Charles Hill, an unemployed father of five. The Chicago resident once supported Jackson, but the legal drama has left him so drained he&#39;s not even paying attention to the batch of nearly 20 candidates vying for the spot. &quot;It&#39;s a sad commentary.&quot;</p><p>Even by Illinois&#39; corruption standards &mdash; where four of the last seven governors were sent to jail &mdash; troubles in the district are astonishing. The attempts to explain it &mdash; among voters, experts and the most recent candidates vying for the seat &mdash; range from a culture of corruption to pure coincidence.</p><p>Corruption in Chicago politics dates back to at least 1869, when city commissioners were snagged in a scheme over City Hall paint contracts. More than 1,000 Illinois public officials, most in the Chicago area, have been convicted of corruption since the 1970s, according to Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor. In a study, he ranked Chicago as the No. 1 in corruption among U.S. metropolitan areas.</p><p>Jackson&#39;s grip on the 2nd District seat &mdash; winning each election since 1995 in a landslide &mdash; created conditions ripe for wrongdoing, Simpson said. Even so, he&#39;s slightly baffled by why more problems seem to exist in this district than in others with similar demographics and longtime congressmen.</p><p>&quot;Unfortunately, the 2nd Congressional District seems to be an epicenter for these mistakes by public officials,&quot; he said.</p><p>The district includes part of Chicago&#39;s South Side, south suburbs and some rural areas.</p><p>Talk of ethics has been a secondary issue among the candidates after jobs and guns, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg&#39;s political action committee has poured money into ads criticizing candidates it deems too weak on gun control. The candidates include 14 Democrats and four Republicans. The district is largely Democratic, and the winner of Tuesday&#39;s Democratic primary is widely expected to sail through the April 9 election.</p><p>The only hint of an ethics scandal has involved former state Rep. Robin Kelly, a front-runner who&#39;s been attacked by other candidates over accusations that she misrepresented hours she worked as a top aide to former Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias in 2010. The Chicago Tribune obtained a report by the chief investigator in the treasurer&#39;s office through an open records request. No action was taken against Kelly because she had already left state government.</p><p>Kelly has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the allegations as &quot;political silly season.&quot;</p><p>As for the region&#39;s troubles with ethics?</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s coincidental,&quot; she said. &quot;I don&#39;t think the district has any whammy over it.&quot;</p><p>Those who agree with her include Reynolds, who&#39;s running for the seat again. He says the corruption issue has been blown out of proportion, and his campaign signs read, &quot;REDEMPTION.&quot;</p><p>&quot;An aberration is what happened in my life,&quot; he said. &quot;It was not a determination of my character.&quot;</p><p>That hasn&#39;t kept the issue from the headlines, especially with Jackson&#39;s legal proceedings playing out in federal court. Jackson and his wife, former Alderman Sandi Jackson, both pleaded guilty Wednesday in the scheme.</p><p>Another candidate, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson, has emphasized the issue, saying it&#39;s a time for a clean slate. She unsuccessfully challenged Jackson in last year&#39;s primary, even as he was plagued by questions over ties to imprisoned ex.-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and reports of an extramarital affair. Blagojevich was convicted on corruption charges that included trying to sell President Barack Obama&#39;s vacated U.S. Senate seat.</p><p>&quot;People want to close this door to unethical behavior,&quot; she said. &quot;We&#39;ve had enough. This district has been plagued for far too long.&quot;</p><p>The third front-runner, Anthony Beale, a Chicago alderman whose ward overlaps with the district, said the fact that neither Reynolds nor Jackson held public office before Congress was likely a factor in their ethical problems.</p><p>&quot;They were not homegrown to know what the district needs,&quot; Beale said.</p><p>Savage was defeated by Reynolds after the House Ethics Committee determined he made improper sexual advances to a female volunteer. Then Reynolds was convicted in the sex case and sent to prison. Later, while still behind bars, he was convicted of federal wire and bank fraud charges. President Bill Clinton commuted his sentence in 2001.</p><p>The district&#39;s history has fueled cynicism among some voters.</p><p>Grocery store worker Pnakara Nealy, 32, of Calumet Park, supported Jackson in the past, but now she&#39;s disillusioned with politics.</p><p>&quot;He&#39;s not the only one doing it,&quot; she said of Jackson. &quot;He just got caught.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 25 Feb 2013 08:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-2nd-district-has-history-corruption-105721 Judge denies Derrick Smith's request for hearing into key witness http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/judge-denies-derrick-smiths-request-hearing-key-witness-105545 <p><p>A federal judge in Chicago has put the brakes on attempts to investigate whether federal agents lied about a key witness in the case against an Illinois lawmaker.</p><p>Prosecutors allege they caught State Rep. Derrick Smith, a Chicago Democrat, on tape accepting a $7,000 bribe.&nbsp;Smith&rsquo;s attorneys say FBI agents didn&rsquo;t disclose the 20 prior arrests of the person who secretly recorded Smith. Victor Henderson, Smith&#39;s attorney, has said he wants the 27 secret recordings thrown out before the trial. He&#39;s argued in court filings that separating the source&#39;s background from the tapes gathered against Smith is no easier than separating the yolk from an egg.</p><p>&quot;It makes a big difference when you&#39;re starting a case out whether you have a nun or a Sister Bertrille who&#39;s at the center of it, or a confidential informant who&#39;s got a criminal history that&#39;s 40 pages long,&quot; Henderson said leading up to the judge&#39;s decision on Thursday.</p><p>But Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled Thursday there&rsquo;s enough evidence to continue the case against Smith, even if the source&#39;s credibility is an issue.</p><p>&quot;The source&#39;s credibility plays no role in establishing that the words were spoken,&quot; she wrote in her decision, referring to the alleged secret recordings of Smith.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s trial is scheduled to start in October.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/judge-denies-derrick-smiths-request-hearing-key-witness-105545 Credibility of key witness against State Rep. Derrick Smith is questioned http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/credibility-key-witness-against-state-rep-derrick-smith-questioned-105443 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/derrick smith.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The bribery case of an Illinois lawmaker may take a rare step this week. Attorneys are scheduled to debate whether federal authorities lied about the background of a key witness who secretly recorded Illinois State Rep. Derrick Smith.</p><p>Prosecutors allege they have Smith on tape saying he wants a $7,000 bribe in cash so there would be no trace of the money. Much of the prosecutors&rsquo; initial complaint relies on secretly recorded conversations Smith had with an unnamed source.</p><p>Now, that anonymous source has become the subject of scrutiny.</p><p>Victor Henderson, Smith&rsquo;s defense attorney, said federal authorities didn&rsquo;t disclose the criminal history of that source. Early on in the case, federal investigators said the source had one prior arrest and had been paid $1,200 by the FBI for work in other cases.</p><p>But both prosecutors and the defense now say that was wrong. The source actually had 20 prior arrests and had been paid $2,100 by the FBI.</p><p>&ldquo;It makes a big difference when you&rsquo;re starting a case out whether you have a nun or a Sister Bertrille who&rsquo;s at the center of it, or a confidential informant who&rsquo;s got a criminal history that&rsquo;s 40 pages long,&rdquo; Henderson said.</p><p>Henderson is calling for the anonymous source and federal agents to testify in a hearing into whether the evidence could be used in Smith&rsquo;s trial, which is scheduled to begin in October.</p><p>Meantime, prosecutors argue in court documents the hearing isn&rsquo;t necessary because the witness&rsquo;s background doesn&rsquo;t change what Smith said on tape.</p><p>Since the charges were brought against Smith, his fellow members of the House of Representatives voted to kick him out of office. But voters in Smith&rsquo;s district on Chicago&rsquo;s west and northwest side voted him back into his old seat in November after a contentious election. At one point during the campaign, the politically powerful Secretary of State Jesse White, who had once supported Smith, told a crowd of ministers that Smith was no longer welcome on the West Side of Chicago.</p><p>&quot;Someone told me that when you take money, make sure you take enough so you can afford a lawyer,&quot; White said, mocking the $7,000 Smith is accused of illegally accepting.</p><p>Shortly after Smith won election, Henderson held a news conference in which he told reporters Smith would be an independent voice in Springfield who would stand up to the legislators who expelled him from public office.</p><p>&ldquo;There were a lot of ministers who didn&rsquo;t want Martin Luther King up here in the &#39;60s because he said he was causing problems. Look what good he did. People wanted Nelson Mandela to be quiet. People wanted Jesus to be quiet,&rdquo; Henderson said in November.</p><p>Lawmakers in Springfield have abandoned attempts to kick Smith out of office again since the state constitution forbids a legislator from being expelled twice for the same reason. Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin, who helped expel Smith last year, has said Smith will have a hard time doing his job since so many House found him unfit to hold public office once before.</p><p>&quot;He will have a very difficult time legislating and, quite frankly, I think that members of the legislature are going to be suspicious of him and some of them will be just downright offended that they&rsquo;re serving with him,&quot; Durkin said.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/credibility-key-witness-against-state-rep-derrick-smith-questioned-105443 Judge wants hearing into main witness in bribery case against Illinois lawmaker http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-wants-hearing-main-witness-bribery-case-against-illinois-lawmaker-105223 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F77158061" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Defense attorneys for an Illinois state representative facing bribery charges scored a victory Wednesday in their attacks against the credibility of the prosecutors&rsquo; main witness.</p><p>While State Rep. Derrick Smith was in Springfield for a House session, his attorney, Victor Henderson, was winning an argument in front of a federal judge in Chicago.</p><p>Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled she would hold a rare hearing into whether law enforcement knowingly gave false information about a main witness in the Derrick Smith case.</p><p>Prosecutors say the source, whose name has not been made public, secretly recorded Smith in 27 conversations, including one in which the Chicago Democrat allegedly asked for a $7,000 cash bribe. Prosecutors say Smith is heard on tape saying he wants the money in cash because, he allegedly said, &quot;I don&#39;t want no trace of it.&quot; In exchange for the money, prosecutors say Smith wrote a letter of recommendation for a grant application.</p><p>Early on in the case, federal investigators said the source who secretly recorded Smith had one prior arrest for domestic assault. Investigators also said the source had been paid $1,200 by the FBI for work in other investigations.&nbsp;</p><p>But Smith&rsquo;s defense attorneys call that witness a con man who has actually been arrested 20 times.</p><p>Prosecutors concur the source has been arrested for a range of offenses, including burglary, theft, drug offenses and weapons offenses. They say the witness has been convicted twice: once for a 2004 drug conviction and once in 1978 for burglary. The source was sentenced to probation for both offenses.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s attorneys also say the witness has not been paid $1,200 by the FBI, but $2,100.</p><p>The hearing scheduled for next month will look into what investigators knew about the witness, and that could impact the evidence allowed at trial.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s attorney would not comment after the judge&rsquo;s decision on Wednesday.</p><p>Smith was first appointed to represent parts of Chicago&rsquo;s West and North Sides in Springfield in 2011. His fellow House of Representatives members kicked him out of his seat last year after he was arrested. But Smith won back his House seat in November&rsquo;s election, even though several high-ranking Illinois politicians supported his third party opponent.</p><p>Some of the same representatives who voted to kick Smith out of the House have said he will have a hard time representing his district with the criminal charges hanging over his head. They have said Illinois&rsquo; constitution forbids legislators from being kicked out of the House twice for the same offense.</p><p>Smith&rsquo;s trial is scheduled to start in October.</p></p> Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-wants-hearing-main-witness-bribery-case-against-illinois-lawmaker-105223