The Chicago Way

Even if you don’t live in Chicago, you probably already know Chicago politics are incredibly, hilariously corrupt and controlled by the Democratic Party. Even if you’ve never been here and know nothing about Chicago, you still know it’s the most corrupt city in the country. Every American knows it. It’s a fact of life.

Vote fraud is so rampant it’s become a joke: “Vote Early and Often: The Chicago Way,” or my personal favorite: “Election Day in Chicago: Where we join our dearly departed in voting straight-ticket Democrat.”

Machine politics are still alive and well in Chicago. The true power in this city, and thus the state (Cook County basically controls the entire state–just ask Republican Bill Brady, who in the 2010 governor race won every single county in the state outside of Cook and East St. Louis and still lost to Democrat Pat Quinn) is Mike Madigan, the longtime Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Nobody gets anywhere without Madigan’s blessing. Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without Madigan’s say-so.

Here’s a bit from his Wikipedia page to give you a sense of who Madigan is:

“Michael Joseph Madigan (born April 19, 1942) is the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He is the longest-serving leader of any state or federal legislative body in the history of the United States, having held the position for all but two years since 1983. He has served in the Illinois House since 1971, representing the 22nd District in southwest Chicago.

Chicago Magazine named Madigan as the fourth-most-powerful Chicagoan in 2012 and as the second in both 2013 and 2014, earning the nickname “the Velvet Hammer—a.k.a. the Real Governor of Illinois.” Rich Miller, editor of the Capitol Fax Illinois political newsletter, wrote “the pile of political corpses outside Madigan’s Statehouse door of those who tried to beat him one way or another is a mile high and a mile wide.”

Even though Republican businessman Bruce Rauner won the governor’s race in 2014, he got virtually nothing accomplished over his four years in office due to relentless opposition and obstruction from Madigan’s House. Demoralized by the futility of their plight, Illinois Republicans largely threw up their hands for this year’s election, which Democrat billionaire JB Pritzker won in a runaway, restoring Democrat “order” in the Land of Madigan Lincoln.

The lesson we learned from Rauner is simple: the Illinois swamp will never be drained.

Because of Democratic rule by way of Chicago, Illinois is hopelessly corrupt and failing. Our state, due to population exodus, has now fallen behind Pennsylvania to the 6th largest state in the US. Illinois has experienced four straight years of net loss in population, and in 2017, Cook County experienced the largest numerical loss of residents of any county in the entire US.

My family lived in the Chicago suburbs for 12 years until my parents moved to Florida. They haven’t looked back. And they’re not alone; plenty of friends (and their families) I grew up with have moved out of the state as well.

But while people from other states often hear about how corrupt Chicago is, you don’t often get cases in point. It’s more a general air of corruption, not specific stories.

John Kass, a great longtime columnist for the Tribune (I can’t believe he still has a job) wrote about a local college student who ran for Alderman and got a lesson in the “Chicago Way”. It’s a great in-depth look at how Chicago corruption actually works:

“The history of the little guy being squashed by massive Chicago political clout at election time is just too long to print without weeping.

It’s overkill of epic proportions, like using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat, or firing off a nuclear weapon to kill a sparrow. A Southwest Side David vs. Goliath story.

The David is David Krupa, 19, a freshman at DePaul University who drives a forklift part time. He’s not a political powerhouse. He’s just a conservative Southwest Side teenager studying political science and economics who got it in his head to run for alderman in a race that pits him against the most powerful ward organization in Chicago.

The Goliath is the 13th Ward Democratic Organization run by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, aka Boss Madigan, the most powerful politician in the state. Boss Madigan has long hand-picked his aldermen. He likes them loyal and quiet. The current silent alderman of the 13th Ward is Marty Quinn.

“I’m from Clearing,” Krupa told me. “All I want to do is get on the ballot to address the serious issues we have, from public safety to taxes. People don’t want to say things out loud here. People who’ve challenged the 13th Ward get intimidated. You know the neighborhood.”

Poor David Krupa is in for a rude awakening: there’s a lot more to politics in Illinois than having good ideas and a noble cause.

“To get on the ballot, Krupa was required to file 473 valid signatures of ward residents with the Chicago Board of Elections. Krupa filed 1,703 signatures.

But before he filed his signatures with the elections board, an amazing thing happened along the Chicago Way. An organized crew of political workers — or maybe just civic-minded individuals who care about reform — went door to door with official legal papers. They asked residents to sign an affidavit revoking their signature on Krupa’s petition.

Revocations are serious legal documents, signed and notarized. Lying on a legal document is a felony and can lead to a charge of perjury. If you’re convicted of perjury, you may not work for a government agency. And I know that there are many in the 13th Ward on the government payroll.

More than 2,700 revocations were turned over to the elections board to cancel the signatures on Krupa’s petitions. Chicago Board of Elections officials had never seen such a massive pile of revocations.

“The board has received a few revocations here and there in very rare electoral board cases over the years,” said election board spokesman Jim Allen.

But more than 2,700? Impossible, no?

“They’re pretty rare, and no one can remember anything approaching this volume of filings in past cases,” Allen said. “For the board, the next step is to begin the hearings on all of the objections that have been filed against any candidates’ nominating petitions. We can’t speculate, though, on the legitimacy or any other legal questions about any of the objections or the corresponding petitions.”

The number of revocations far exceeds the number of signatures Krupa collected. That means false affidavits were filed with the elections board.

Why would thousands of people lie on a legal document of revocation, and say they’d signed Krupa’s petitions, when they didn’t sign Krupa’s petitions? Were they just being nice?”

Business as usual. This is how the Madigan Machine mobilizes to thwart any challenge to its hegemony. And keep in mind we’re talking about a 19-year-old college student here.

If Madigan will call in an army of thousands willing to commit widespread, felonious vote fraud to crush a 19-year-old college kid, what do you think he does to real threats?

“Mike Kasper, the elections lawyer for the 13th Ward, said his side has filed objections to Krupa’s petitions of candidacy and “we’ll wait for the elections board to take it up when it does.”

Pressed about the large number of revocation petitions, Kasper said he’s aware of the issue, but that “it is my practice to decline comment on any pending litigation.”

There is no litigation, yet, but election attorney Michael Dorf, who is representing Krupa, says this case is a “clown car of felonies.”

“You [Kass] know the 13th Ward better than I do,” Dorf said. “This is clown school and election fraud. This is going way, way beyond the line. David is a huge underdog. Go ahead and beat him on Election Day, or do subtle fraud, like taking away yard signs, but when this number of false affidavits are filed, you’re talking fundamental fraud, epic fraud.

The Chicago Way. It’s so bad that honest folks are reduced to advocating for “subtle fraud”. Instead of seeking to expose and end the corruption, period, we can only protest and hope for less obvious and less brazen fraud.

Corruption is a way of life here. It is ingrained in the fabric of Chicago.

“We turned in 1,703 signatures. We compared them to the 2,796 revocations, and found only 187 matches, meaning only 187 people who signed David’s petitions filed revocations,” Dorf said. “So, what about the 2,609 people who didn’t sign for David but who filed revocations? That’s fraud. That’s perjury. That’s felony.”

Do you think Madigan cares? It’s nothing to him.

“Dorf said that he will ask the elections board next week to refer the matter to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. But Foxx, a Democrat, won’t want to anger the Boss.

Neither will incoming Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who famously said he would not “go fishing” for corruption, and who also received a million dollars in Madigan political money.

Bet that’s just a coincidence!

And current Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, is the Boss’ daughter.

This is Chicago, where the Davids get crushed by the Goliaths. And where the boss is the boss.

Just incredible.

How does Kass still have a job? Boss Madigan probably doesn’t see him as a threat–even despite Kass having a voice at the Tribune, the state’s largest newspaper. He’s still just a lone man against a city-wide machine. Madigan’s power is so absolute that a lone conservative pundit at the Tribune means nothing whatsoever to him.

Madigan doesn’t bat an eye, even when his corruption is exposed in detail in the most prominent paper in the city. The current attorney general is his daughter and the incoming attorney general is under his thumb.

So why does this matter for people outside of Chicago?

Well, the nation just recently emerged from eight years of rule by a Chicago Democrat. If you think Barack Obama was not involved with Madigan and company, you are totally nuts. Early in his political career, Obama, also from the South Side, served in the State House under Madigan. You don’t move up the ranks without Madigan’s blessing.

Look at this GQ headline from March 2016: Whoa, Why Is Obama Trying to End This Guy’s Career? Why the most powerful man on the planet is hell-bent on defeating a small-time politician in Chicago.” Eight years into his presidency, Obama was still doing Madigan’s bidding:

“On Tuesday, Democrats in Illinois go to the polls to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders—and while the current president hasn’t picked sides in that contest, he is wading into a race much, much further down the ballot. When it comes to Illinois’ fifth legislative district in Chicago, Barack Obama wants badly to defeat the Democratic incumbent, a seven-term state representative named Ken Dunkin.

Dunkin has become a huge thorn in the side of his fellow Illinois Democrats—especially Democratic Speaker of the House Mike Madigan—by backing Republican governor Bruce Rauner on several key votes.”

Ahh, there it is.

“The behavior has also earned the ire of the White House—which, of course, is now occupied by a former Illinois state senator. Last month, when Obama gave a speech in Springfield to some of his former colleagues in the Illinois legislature, he included a paean to bipartisanship, which prompted Dunkin to jump from his seat and exclaim, “Yes!” Obama wasn’t amused. “We’ll talk later, Dunkin,” the president said. “You just sit down.” Last week, Obama announced he was endorsing Dunkin’s Democratic-primary opponent, Juliana Stratton.”

Chicago Reader described Obama’s unusual involvement in a small-time State House race as “shooting a fly with a howitzer” and remarked that it was quite unprecedented for a two-term president to get involved in such an obscure, insignificant race.

Even as President of the United States, Obama was still Madigan’s Guy.

Oh, and Dunkin ended up losing his seat in the primary after Obama’s intervention.

If you still find it hard to believe Obama would weaponize his Justice Department to destroy Donald Trump’s campaign, then presidential transition, just look at Obama’s old Chicago cronies. The corruption at Obama’s DoJ was a product of Obama’s Chicago days.

All the stuff they did (and are still doing) to Trump today is just the Chicago Way exported to a national scale.


  1. davidprowse says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only way to slow down corrupt politicians is by public hangings. After conviction, of course. In Sweden, they have a term, “Skott Pengar”, where the local government reimburses a citizen the cost of ammunition spent on controlling pests. Something most sensible Americans here would probably embrace.

    1. Austin Frank says:

      Talk about accountability!

  2. sicular says:

    Great article, Austin! There just aren’t enough plumbers in the world to fix that cesspool.

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