Four out of five

FOUR OUT OF FIVE…. I mentioned earlier that Rod Blagojevich (D) is facing corruption charges after his predecessor, George Ryan (R), was convicted of corruption and is currently behind bars.

Jonathan Stein looks back a little further and makes an excellent catch about the troubling trend among Illinois’ chief executives.

Here’s the list of pols who have recently held that position: Blago (2003-present?), George Ryan (1999-2003), James Edgar (1991-1999), James Thompson (1977-1991), and Daniel Walker (1973-1977). Blago is Blago. Ryan was convicted of 16 charges of conspiracy, fraud, and lying under oath and currently resides in federal prison. (Patrick Fitzgerald, apparently the greatest prosecutor walking the planet, was Ryan’s prosecutor.) Edgar was indicted (but not charged) with giving a sweetheart deal to a major campaign contributor. Thompson does not appear to have run into any legal trouble, but the law firm he heads did represent Ryan against Fitzgerald. And Walker was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in a savings and loan scandal after leaving office.

So that would be… four of the five Illinois governors charged with some kind of wrongdoing. Excellent work, Land of Lincoln.

If Blagojevich is convicted and incarcerated, he’ll be the third of the last five Illinois governors to do time behind bars.

This is not, by the way, about partisanship. Blagojevich and Walker are Democrats, while Ryan and Edgar are Republicans.

At Patrick Fitzgerald’s press conference earlier, Special Agent Robert Grant of the FBI told reporters, “If [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it’s certainly one hell of a competitor.”

Support the Washington Monthly and get a FREE subscription

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.