Illinois: The High Cost of Politics

The corridor of Chicago's Federal Building might have been a political headquarters on a winning election night. Supporters cheered, klieg lights glared, and there was even a victory statement. Said Illinois' former Republican Governor (1953-61) William G. Stratton: "I never went through a tougher campaign."

Stratton had won perhaps the most important vote of his life: a federal-court jury, after a 91-week trial, acquitted him of income tax evasion charges that could have jailed him for 20 years.

In court, Stratton often acted more like a candidate than a potential convict, waving to...

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