Chicago Corruption Seen As ‘Cautionary Tale’ on Government Intervention
December 10, 2008 - 8:06 AMWith the government injecting itself into more and more private businesses, beware of more Chicago-style corruption, some conservatives are warning.
They spoke on the same day that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested on charges of trying to silence his critics at The Chicago Tribune and attempting to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.
“The cautionary tale here is that more government intervention in the economy guarantees increased corruption,” said the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative government watchdog group.
“Obama's plan to saturate state and local governments with stimulus funds will empower corrupt politicians and union bosses,” said NLPC President Peter Flaherty. “Transactional politicians of the Blagojevich ilk will be the big beneficiaries.”
Flaherty’s group, which sponsors the Organized Labor Accountability Project and the Corporate Integrity Project, has documented the “symbiotic relationship” between corrupt politicians and corrupt union bosses.
'One big Chicago'
Richard Viguerie, a leader of the conservative movement, warns that America could become “one big Chicago” unless federal bailouts are subject to certain restrictions.
"Before we turn over the car companies, the financial sector, the health care system, and much of the rest of the American economy to these guys, we need to realize: We are opening doors to a level of corruption like we have never seen before," Viguerie warned.
Viguerie said media organizations should be “excluded absolutely” from receiving bailouts. “People should simply assume that any media bailout comes with political conditions, and that any media organization that receives taxpayers' money is working for the politicians who give them that money,” he said.
Second, all bailouts and “infrastructure spending” should be closely examined for connections between politicians who spend taxpayers’ money and the special interests who benefit from the projects, Viguerie said.
“Corporations that spend inordinate amounts of money on lobbying, hiring former politicians, or hiring relatives of politicians, or making large Political Action Committee contributions to politicians should be barred absolutely from receiving bailouts. Forensic accountants should closely examine all ‘infrastructure’ money that goes to such corporations,” he added.
President-elect Obama is proposing a massive stimulus program that would funnel taxpayer money to cities across the country for “public works” construction projects.
Obama has called it "the largest public works program in history." The cost has been estimated in the $700 billion to $1 trillion range, and it has the backing of Congressional Democrats.
"We are pleased with the policy of President-elect Obama,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday. “We are working with him so that in the first week of our new Congress, we'll be able to introduce a very smart, modern recovery package for the 21st century.”