There is today a “clear and present danger” that political contribution corruption threatens the integrity of our political system. The time for action has arrived. This Essay explores the extent of pay-to-play corruption and its implications for campaign finance law.
I. The Pay-to-Play Corruption Epidemic
Let us start with Illinois, where I served as governor. Chicago and Illinois have long been known for scandals, both private and public. According to a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, Chicago is the most corrupt city in the nation and Illinois one of its most corrupt states. For many decades, Chicago was known for Al Capone and machine guns.
Now, Illinois is known for something entirely new: attempting to auction a seat in the U.S. Senate to the highest bidder. Recently impeached Governor Rod Blagojevich’s taped, expletive-filled telephone conversations involve blatant, large-money deals between him and various candidates for the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Said the governor in a recorded conversation: “I’ve got this thing and it’s [bleeping] golden and . . . I’m not just giving it up for [bleeping] nothing.”