02/08/2011 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Is Illinois So Corrupt? Experts Weigh In On State's Sleazy Political Culture

When federal agents arrested Governor Rod Blagojevich two years ago--interrupting what the U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called "a political corruption crime spree"--Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office, offered a succinct analysis of the day's events. "If [Illinois] isn't the most corrupt state in the United States," he said, "it is certainly one hell of a competitor."

Given the abundance and variety of political scandals in the state, it's hard to disagree. Over the past 40 years, about 1,500 people--including 30 Chicago aldermen--have been convicted for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, tax fraud, and other forms of corruption, according to Dick Simpson, head of the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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