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Chicago Tribune

Tackling government corruption
Oct. 9, 2009

The Sept. 28 editorial "Stroger and a subpoena" encouraged the Cook County state's attorney's office to "push hard" in our efforts to tackle government corruption and continue to work to break a pattern in which it seems only federal authorities aggressively pursue possible cases of corruption in county government.

I share the Tribune's view that, for the good of the citizens of Cook County, the United States attorney's office cannot fight a lone campaign against corrupt public officials and other organized criminal groups. I am thoroughly committed to this concept and in my first several months in office, I have worked very hard to make my office an effective and forceful partner in this effort.

At the outset of my administration, I hired a veteran federal prosecutor to lead the state's attorney's Special Prosecutions Bureau, and I continue to forge enhanced relationships with federal law enforcement and others. Even now, my office has already brought innovative and important cases to court in matters traditionally only brought by the feds, such as the recent white-collar financial crimes investigation regarding the controversial closing of the now defunct Chicago business Republic Windows and Doors.

Last spring, my office drafted and pursued passage of legislation in the General Assembly that would give Illinois prosecutors the necessary tools to fight public corruption and organized criminal enterprises. We were seeking the very same legal tools enjoyed by federal and state prosecutors across this nation for generations.

Unfortunately, our efforts to pass this legislation failed in Springfield. But I have every intention of revisiting this proposal in the legislature in the hope that we can obtain the investigate powers that are required to help us more effectively partner with the federal government and meet the expectations of the Tribune and others in our efforts to combat corruption here in Cook County.

In the end, I welcome the challenge and stress my commitment to doing all that we can to bring about meaningful reform in Cook County and all of Illinois.

-- Anita Alvarez,
Cook County state's attorney, Chicago