Dawn Reiss writes in Time magazine, “The fanfare surrounding the trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich seems more appropriate for a Hollywood red carpet than a federal prosecution case that includes 24 counts of racketeering, bribery and extortion charges practically out of a James Patterson novel. On Tuesday morning, as he entered the 25th floor of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Blagojevich betrayed no signs of nervousness, turning to the public and press to proclaim, ‘Finally you’ll be able to hear things I’ve been dying to tell you for the last year and a half.'” He was besieged with sympathetic words and requests for autographs.
But the dealmaking Blagojevich is accused of could get him 415 years in prison, if he is found guilty on all counts. He is the fifth governor of Illinois to be indicted in the past 50 years. “There is a culture of corrupt and history of corruption in Chicago that dates back to 1856 when county commissioners and aldermen were in scheme crooked scheme to paint city hall,” says Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political scientist. “Chicago machines and politics underlies the history of this city and state. We are the most corrupt city and state in the country.” “The invisible defendant of this trial is the state of Illinois,” said Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association.