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Residents think Blagojevich's alleged crimes are common
By Joseph Ryan | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/16/2009 12:03 AM

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Most Illinois residents believe the corruption allegations against impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich - that he schemed to sell off state business for personal profit in profanity-laced phone conversations - are nothing new to politics in their state, a recent poll finds.

The poll released Thursday by the watchdog Illinois Campaign for Political Reform also shows residents list state corruption as one of their top concerns, above even the tanking economy.

People are upset, said campaign deputy director David Morrison.

Of the 802 adults surveyed statewide, 61 percent said they were "extremely concerned" about state corruption compared to 50 percent for the economy and 45 percent for jobs.

Overall, the poll results show 58 percent of respondents said Blagojevich's alleged wrongdoings are either somewhat or strongly common.

Morrison hopes to use the data to push forward campaign finance reform in the coming weeks.

The poll shows considerable support for contribution limits, bans on business or labor donations and public campaign financing to clean the culture of Illinois politics.

Illinois has one of the most wide-open campaign finance laws, allowing just about anyone to donate as much as they want to any campaign.

This year a new law took effect banning state contractors from donating to statewide candidates, like the governor, but critics have pointed out loopholes that allow such donations to state parties.

Inevitably, corruption charges against public officials lead to calls for ethics and campaign finance reform. Morrison's group is already planning a major push after Blagojevich is expected to be removed from office early next month following a Senate trial.

"Getting Blagojevich out of office is only the first step," Morrison said. "A lot of the culture has to be changed."