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Blagojevich and a little ethics irony

December 15, 2008 | 10:50 am

Bob Stern, head of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, is just back from a conference of ethics experts in Chicago, where a letter of greeting from one political figure took on new meaning later.

The letter, which was in the packets given to attendees who arrived Dec. 7 at the Annual Conference of the Council of Government Ethics Laws, commended participants for their efforts "to promote government integrity throughout the world." The letter was signed by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich who, a day after the conference ended, was indicted on corruption charges involving allegations he talked about selling the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. Stern said this is not the first time the group’s meetings have been followed by political scandal.

One year, the conference was held one year in Providence, R.I., and six months after the event, the mayor there was indicted on corruption charges. Another year, the conference was held at a Washington hotel where investigators later videotaped then-Mayor Marion Barry using crack cocaine. "It seems wherever we go, interesting things happen to people," Stern said.

--Patrick McGreevy