- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August 3, 2014

The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle

‘Rita’s law’ could curb corruption

When out-of-staters are asked what comes to mind when they think about Illinois, government corruption is near the top of the list.

Illinoisans would ruefully agree. And who can blame them?

Illinois’ last two governors, George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, ended up in prison on corruption charges, and before them, ex-governors Otto Kerner and Dan Walker did time for their crimes.

Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, D-Chicago, is currently behind bars because of a corruption conviction.

We can think back to the days of Secretary of State Paul Powell and his shoeboxes full of cash, or just as recently as 2012, when former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell’s massive municipal theft of nearly $54 million was uncovered.

Illinoisans are accustomed to such things.

However, when corruption is quantified in dollars and cents so you know how much it’s costing individuals, maybe people will sit up and take notice.

Prosecution of corrupt officials is only one response to the problem.

Prevention is another.

Elected government officials, who are supposed to be watchdogs over the public purse, have been given a new tool to monitor tax dollars on the local level.

That’s because legislation sponsored by state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, was signed into law last week by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The law, inspired by Crundwell’s brazen thievery, is designed to give much more attention to the annual audits of city and county governments.

Story Continues →