WASHINGTON--Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) offered Chicago-style context to a House hearing Monday on the IRS scandals, saying lawmakers don't yet have all the facts and in any case "it's hard to shock and awe someone who's from Chicago, Illinois about scandals." He noted, without naming them, that two men who have held his Fifth Congressional District seat--the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich--were both convicted of corruption charges.
Blagojevich is now serving his 14-year sentence at a federal prison in Colorado.
Quigley made his comments about the comparability of the gravity of scandals during a hearing of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee about the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
While Quigley and other Democrats did not exactly defend the IRS at the hearing, they did try to diminish some of the sting aimed at the Obama White House. Quigley, in his questioning of Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel made the point that it is still not clear who did what--and then launched into a Chicago comparison when it comes to scandals.
Quigley asked Werfel, "And inasmuch as the anger exists and the anger is justified, without knowing exactly what took place, it's hard to find people accountable in the correct way.
If you don't know exactly what happened and who ordered what and who did what, it's hard to immediately find people accountable...and so forth and prosecute and investigate is there, it's just going to take a little bit of time. Correct?"
Werfel replied, "That's exactly right. We have to get the facts in a fair and thorough way."
Responded Quigley, " Listen, the chairman began this hearing talking about scandals and people being embarrassed and how far this is. You know, it's hard to shock and awe someone who's from Chicago, Illinois about scandals. My last two previous governors either went to jail or are in jail. Two of my last four predecessors sitting in my seat are in jail or went to jail. So I get it.
"But this is getting there. And clearly, this makes -- I'm often asked what the real cost of corruption is. Clearly there is a loss of trust here. That loss of trust is probably the greatest thing because it makes it very difficult to lead when you don't have the public's trust.
"So gentlemen, that's your task."