Thursday, December 11, 2008

Century-Old Illinois Scandal Changed The Way We Elect Senators

A century ago our U.S. Constitution provided for the election of senators by state legislatures. An Illinois scandal, however, helped pave the way for the adoption of the 17th Amendment providing for the direct election of senators by the people. In 1909, Illinois state lawmakers chose William Lorimer, also known as the "blond boss" of Chicago, to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. A year later, scandal erupted when the Chicago Tribune reported on Lorimer's vote-buying efforts to win the seat, leading to his removal from the Senate in 1912. "The Lorimer case was the poster child for what was wrong with the old system," Donald Ritchie, a Senate historian, said Tuesday. "The senators were bombarded with newspaper editorials, and the feeling at the time was the best solution was to turn this over to the people." The 17th Amendment was officially ratified in 1913. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, I believe Illinois is the 18th state in the line of political corruption.

North Dakota, Louisiana, and Alaska are the top 3.

Let's remember that "Uncle Ted" was an 86 year old 7x convicted felon who described the internet as a set of tubes, but Alaska residents about sent him back in for another term because he did bring home $3.5 billion in federal tax money to study the mating habits of crabs and building the highway to nowhere that was supposed to connect to the bridge to nowhere.

Kind of makes you feel good about paying your taxes, knowing that $500 million if it will benefit 50 people living a few thousand miles away...

And a big reason for the direct Senator elections was because it took so darned long to fill vacancies, but I'm sure that particular scandal didn't lend much support for the old system.