Skip to main content


Gov. George Ryan's attorneys pushing appeal in court

Attorneys for George Ryan are expected to be in court Monday asking a federal judge to free the former governor of Illinois. Ryan's attorneys renewed their efforts to get him out of prison based on a Supreme Court ruling this past summer that struck down portions of a law Ryan was charged with breaking.

But prosecutors say Ryan's case was not affected by restrictions to the so-called honest services law. They say the honest services law is still constitutional when applied to cases involving bribery and kickbacks, and they say Ryan used his power as secretary of state, and then later governor, to do favors for friends who had  done favors for him.

But what's the difference between a favor and bribe? Ryan's attorneys say a bribe requires an understanding that one favor is being done for another favor.  They say a vague expectation of some potential future benefit is not enough to turn a payment into a bribe. They say favors, general reciprocity, and good will are allowed, in fact, they are even inherent parts, of a system where elections are privately financed.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.