The Washington Post has a good article on how the unbelievable political corruption in Illinois–which culminated in its governor getting caught trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat–came unraveled. It all began with a grandmother refusing to let the politicians shake her down:
The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when a grandmother of six walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire.
Pamela Meyer Davis had been trying to win approval from a state health planning board for an expansion of Edward Hospital, the facility she runs in a Chicago suburb, but she realized that the only way to prevail was to retain a politically connected construction company and a specific investment house. Instead of succumbing to those demands, she went to the FBI and U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald in late 2003 and agreed to secretly record conversations about the project.
Her tapes led investigators down a twisted path of corruption that over five years has ensnared a collection of behind-the-scenes figures in Illinois government, including Joseph Cari Jr., a former Democratic National Committee member, and disgraced businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
On Dec. 9, that path wound up at the governor’s doorstep. Another set of wiretaps suggested that Blagojevich was seeking to capitalize on the chance to fill the Senate seat just vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
A big way to combat official corruption is for citizens who see it to call the F.B.I. And if our officials start to fear that their subjects will react in that way, they may become fearful of being corrupt.
Mrs. Davis was fulfilling her vocation as a citizen. That most emphatically does NOT just mean supine obedience, even to those officials who are violating THEIR vocation to serve their subjects. Mrs. Davis was performing her civic duty and deserves the commendation of all her fellow citizens.