Chicago politics is filled with unwritten rules befitting the city’s clout-drenched history.

One such classic was once directed at a young Abner Mikva, who went on to become a federal judge and presidential adviser. As the story goes, Mikva, then a law student, showed up unannounced to volunteer at a Chicago ward office, and a committeeman asked who sent him. “Nobody,” responded Mikva, to which the incredulous committeeman retorted, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

Then there is the old political chestnut: “Don’t make no waves, don’t back no losers.”

Another unwritten rule came into play Tuesday when Lori Lightfoot, a candidate for mayor, announced her ethics plan — an antidote to the aforementioned clout culture. Apparently, it turns out, a mayoral wannabe with an ethics agenda must have a human prop as proof of good intent. Lightftoot deployed Dick Simpson, a former Chicago alderman, at her ethics press conference.

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David Greising

David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative...