Magazine article Newsweek

And You Thought Blago Was Brazenly Corrupt?

Magazine article Newsweek

And You Thought Blago Was Brazenly Corrupt?

Article excerpt

Byline: Samantha Henig

HISTORY

It's the kind of sordid corruption tale you'd expect to be delivered in shadowy black-and-white and a Mickey Spillane voice-over: Democratic Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, responsible for filling President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat, tried to trade the post for financial favors. More shocking, though, was Blago's frank, cavalier talk about it in a conversation tape-recorded by the FBI. The seat, he said, is "a f---ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing." Politicians being dirty in broad daylight, rather than under cover of darkness, is a proud U.S. tradition. The giants of the craft--sorry, graft:

James Michael Curley, Four-term Boston mayor; Massachusetts governor, 1935-37: He impersonated someone on a civil-service exam while holding public office, and then, after he was busted for the crime, ran for another office from jail. (He won.) Later, as governor during

the Depression, he flagrantly used state money for his own devices, once even taking state policemen with him on a boondoggle to Florida to be his golf caddies. He was also suspected of using his clout to have the owner of a coveted license plate ("5") arrested so he could claim it. Ever greedy, Curley often doubled up on political gigs, serving as both U.S. congressman and city councilman in 1911 and both congressman and mayor in 1914 and 1945.

Edwin Edwards, four-term Louisiana governor: Known for his flamboyance, Edwards showed up at court during his 1985 trial for mail fraud and bribery at the reins of a horse and buggy--a metaphor, he said, for "the pace of the trial." After his conviction on subsequent charges of fraud and racketeering in 2000 (for which he is still in prison serving a 10-year sentence), the "Cajun Prince" maintained cosmic innocence: "I did not do anything wrong as a governor. …

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