When the director of the Illinois Board of Elections, Steve Sandvoss, was targeted in an online extortion attempt last week, he reportedly took the matter directly to the Illinois State Police.
That was a logical response, except for one fact: Extortion is legal under Illinois law.
That’s right. In a state that has suffered a generations-long struggle against public corruption, extortion is not prohibited by the Illinois criminal code.
Well-meaning public servants have tried to criminalize extortion but failed so far. When state Attorney General Kwame Raoul was still in the state Senate, he won approval for an extortion bill three times, beginning in 2015. The last two times, the vote was unanimous.
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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 journalism and policy advocacy.
Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.
Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.
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