"I should have known better," former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told the federal judge who today sent him to prison for 14 years.
Indeed he should have. The prosecutors who called Gov. Blagojevich "incredibly manipulative" in his attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and to shake down a children's hospital for money probably understated the case against him.
But it's also true that Gov. Blagojevich is the product of a political culture that has thrived in Illinois for longer than anyone can remember and is doing pretty well for itself in the rest of the country too. It's a culture built on big money, in the form of bribes disguised as campaign contributions.
Sadly, our Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United case, freeing big corporations and other special interests to spend even more on our elections, ensures that Blagojevich-style corruption will continue -- in Illinois and across America. Illinoisians can't fix Springfield, and Americans can't fix Washington, until we make it possible for decent, dedicated people to win elections without relying on big money.
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