State Of Corruption

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
I grew up in Illinois so I got to witness the political corruption first hand.

Back in the day, when we'd pay for our license plates we wrote a check to Paul Powel, secretary of state.

Little did we know that Paul Powel was actually pocketing those checks for himself and stuffing his attic with shoe boxes full of them.

I'm not kidding.

Years later I would meet one of Powel's successors, a man named George Ryan.

When I joked about the shoe boxes full of money he didn't think it was funny.

Later Ryan would become governor and ultimately face indictment and trial for corruption, which landed him in federal prison.

It would all be funny except for the fact that the criminal malfeasance has become part of the state political DNA.

The rants of current Governor Rod Blagojevich show full well that in Illinois, politicians expect and demand payment for a piece of the action.

Pay for play is what it's called.

Now we can only hope Balgojevich has to pay the price.

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