Reporting by Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford used in this report.
Illinois has a reputation not only as a hotbed for public corruption, but also as a place where high ranking officials are prosecuted for misdeeds. Former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, who is known for his clashes with the GOP’s old guard, is partly to thank for that.
Almost ten years ago, Fitzgerald played a key role in naming a new U.S. Attorney General for the Northern District of the state. He pushed former President Bush to appoint Patrick Fitzgerald, no relation, to the high profile prosecutor’s job in Chicago.
Since then, two Illinois Governors (Democrat Rod Blagojevich and Republican George Ryan) have been convicted along with others tied to public corruption.
Charlie Wheeler is a former reporter and head of the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
“When history looks at the role of Peter Fitzgerald in the U.S. Senate, the achievement that will stand the tallest is that he brought Patrick Fitzgerald to Chicago as the U.S. Attorney,” said Wheeler.
Peter Fitzgerald chose not to run for a second term and now chairs a bank based in Virginia.