It’s a beautiful city from the outside. And a political cesspool inside, a seeping source of conniving and corruption that spawned Barack Obama and his top aide Valerie Jarrett and is now ruled by the president’s ex-chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.
Another amazing chapter in the Windy City’s sordid politics began unfolding Wednesday, one whose lineage can actually be traced back to the very beginnings of Obama’s political career, which now has an extended expiry date of Jan. 20, 2017. Today, Obama lunches with the man he defeated, Mitt Romney.
See if you can follow along now. The details are revealing of the uncompromising history, incestuous inner workings and municipal mores of the place that produced Obama the politician.
Yesterday Mel Reynolds announced his candidacy for the House seat representing Illinois’ 2d Congressional District, which includes the city’s South Side and — oh, look! — Obama’s Hyde Park house. So, he’ll be eligible to vote in the February Democrat primary and the meaningless April special election.
That special election became necessary after the sudden resignation last week of the district’s easy Nov. 6 election winner, eight-term member Jesse Jackson Jr.
Jackson Jr. has been absent from his House duties most of this year during treatment for depression and bipolar disorder. His situation was complicated by revelations that federal authorities are probing allegations of his misuse of campaign funds, not a rare occurrence in Chicago politics.
That resignation and special election is an interesting coincidence because Jackson Jr. was also initially elected in a special election, in December 1995. That followed the sudden resignation of the district’s House incumbent after his conviction on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.
That new convicted felon was Mel Reynolds.
Reynolds had been elected to the House in 1992 succeeding Democrat Gus Savage, who’d been condemned by the House Ethics Committees over allegations of sexual misconduct with a Peace Corps volunteer during an official visit to Zaire.
During the 1994 House campaign, Reynolds was indicted for sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. The married congressman had developed an attraction to a 16-year-old female constituent, who became a campaign volunteer and candidate mistress. At one point the teenager confided her underage relationship with Reynolds to a neighbor. The neighbor was a police officer.