The Chicago Machine — how corrupt is it really?

Big Red Car here.  Been out for an early run this morning.  Got stopped for not having a current registration.  The Boss had put it in the glove compartment — when was the last time you wore gloves, driving gloves I guess?

The policeman was quite understanding and said to get it on the windshield and did not write The Boss a ticket.  Got me thinking about the legitimate role of government and how government regulates itself.

Which got me thinking about how government regulates itself, how it identifies and roots out corruption.  Which, OF COURSE, gets me thinking about Chicago and the Chicago Machine.

Jesse Jackson, Jr

Yesterday afternoon — Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend, haha — the Feds announce that they have indicted former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr and that they have arrived at a plea agreement subject only to a Federal Judge sentencing JJJ.

Pardon my cynicism — a Friday afternoon.  A holiday weekend.  The President in town for a major campaign speech on guns.

Somebody was running interference for JJJ.  Clout.  Corruption.  Protection.


So what exactly did JJJ do or what is he willing to admit to?

These are not complicated, complex charges.

JJJ stole money.  Gobs of money.  Campaign contributions he solicited knowing he intended to steal them.

Theft of gobs of money, fraud, mail fraud, lying to investigators.

What did he — JJJ — do with the money?

He bought a gold Rolex, he feathered the beds of a few misstresses, he bought children’s furniture, Michael Jackson memorabilia, mink coats.

These were not campaign violations or impulse purchases — this was cold blooded, painstakingly considered, premeditated theft.

He has apologized for “errors in judgement”.

Errors in judgement means things like — ooops, I used the wrong fork with shellfish; or, I drank a white wine with a steak; or, I was speeding.  Those are errors in judgement.  What JJJ did was just corruption and criminal behavior.

No, this was a thumb in the eye of honest men everywhere, a “the rules do not apply to a big dog like me”, the rules are for the little people.

But he did not do it alone.


So JJJ had a witting and accomplished accomplice, his wife, Sandi Jackson.  Sandi is charged with filing false campaign reports and Federal income tax returns which cynically attempted to hide $750,000 of theft.  She too has been indicted, sought a pleas deal and will be sentenced.


JJJ is liable for up to 5 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.  Right, you say Big Red Car, he stole $750,000 and he has to repay $250,000 and serve up to 5 years.

Sandi is looking at 3 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Let me state the obvious.  They will both likely get probation and are not likely to get prison time because……………………wait for it……………………they have a child and will seek clemency to take care of their child.

They have engaged in the behavior since 2007 — bi-polar, or not.


This corruption is a pattern of repeating behavior in Chicago.  JJJ’s predecessor was Mel Reynolds who was convicted of having sex with a teenage campaign volunteer.

Guess what?  Mel Reynolds is going to run for JJJ’s vacated seat!  I do like the idea of having a “pre-indicted” candidate.  Makes it easier for the Federal prosecutors.


In the course of all of this which feels like a Traffic Court dust up given JJJ’s comments.  JJJ says:

“I want to offer my sincerest apologies … it is my hope that I am remembered for things that I did right.”

 Cynical Big Red Car says:   “And what would those things be exactly given that you started stealing a couple of months after your inauguration?”

Big Red Car has to go take a shower.

But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car in desperate need of a good lathering.

Be good to yourself.  Keep your hands in your own pockets and keep the politician’s hands out.


7 thoughts on “The Chicago Machine — how corrupt is it really?

  1. I live in Chicago. You have no idea. This barely scratches the surface. The Machine is deep. “Public private partnerships” are the rage. The private donate to the public campaigns. For eons, you want to get something done, hire the “right” insurance agent. Make sure you tip the building inspector. Make sure you cut the alderman in on the deal. Oh, need a place for a restaurant-hire the “right” real estate agent, title agency, plumber, etc. The flowers that are delivered to the political fundraiser are ordered from the correct florist. It’s a virtuous cycle where the taxpayers always get stuck with the tab. Jesse Jackson has been silent ever since he got the Budweiser distributorship that services the United Center and Wrigley Field. The Rev Jackson once was owner of most of the payday loan stores in Chicago, but you don’t hear about that. But hey, we got the toughest gun laws around. No murders here right?

  2. JJJ. Not a surprise at all. Can you say entitled? I love his purchases with the stolen money. Like an 18 year old. A $40k Rolex??? I am sure JJS is crapping his pants.

  3. If the BRC was blogging back in the day, it would have been fun to hear his take on how Jon Corzine oversaw the theft (ok, let’s cut him some slack and call it a transfer) of 900 million dollars of customer’s money into the void. And yet walked away smelling like a New Jersey rose. Lucky guy since most business minded folks would probably think that a theft had occurred But what’s 900 million nowadays? That’s just the food stamp budget. And it’s not like anyone bought any gold watches or forgot to take their bi-polar meds.

    • .

      Well, Scott, the Big Red Car considers the undertakings of Gov Corzine and MF Global to be nothing short of miraculous. Why he has not seen the inside of a jail cell is beyond belief?

      Corzine’s pursuit of his Senate seat cost a cool $68MM which he funded out of his own very deep pocket.

      Something a lot of folks do not know about Jon Corzine is that while he was a force in taking Goldman Sachs, he lost in a test of wills with another famous fellow — Sec Treasury Paulson.

      I think the final chapter on this crook may not yet be written.


      • Two reasons. Leading fundraiser for O. Tied into the Chicago Machine (grew up in Taylorville, IL and is an Illini and Chicago Booth grad), tied into Wall Street, and Eric Holder under orders to hold off. I know the attorney going after him with both barrels. I also know the attorney of the MF treasurer. Knowing what I know about commodities (I traded my own money for 25 yrs and was on the CME board) there is no way in hell Corzine did what he did without committing fraud. No way. I’d be shocked if I was wrong.

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