Being the worst Congressman in Chicago is a competitive field, like being the worst warlord in Africa or the worst dictator in Latin America. And all these things do have something in common. Corruption and a complete disregard for the rule of law.
Still Mel Reynolds, sent to prison for being a pedophile and for financial crimes, who is now trying to get the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. after his mental breakdown/substance abuse/criminal issues, is probably the worst Congressman in Chicago. And Jesse Jackson Jr. is probably the second worst.
And as Andrew Malcolm at IBD reminds us, both men helped give us the worst man to squat in the White House in all of history. And that includes the brief British occupation of Washington and the burning of the White House.
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.
For those wondering, Gus Savage cannot be considered the worst congressman in Chicago because he died before Clinton could pardon him. But he did have some things to recommend him as a good liberal.
Savage made racist and anti-Semitic statements against both white and Jewish people. Savage once gave a speech in which he listed the names of all of the Jewish donors living outside of the Chicago area who donated money to his opponent. This led to a backlash, to which Savage responded that only white people could be racist.
Savage’s excuse for trying to rape a Peace Corps worker? You guessed it. Racism!
Savage denied the allegations and blamed them on the “racist press.”
The Savage – Reynolds election was good clean Chicago fun.
Savage claimed that “racist Jews” were donating to Reynolds, while Reynolds claimed that Savage was involved in a drive-by shooting that injured him.
Reynolds won and decided to get in touch with his savage side.
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
Reynolds trotted out the Savage defense. Racism.
Reynolds denied the charges, said they were racially-motivated, continued his second House campaign and, naturally, was easily reelected in November 1994.
As a loyal former elected Democrat, Mel Reynolds writes a plea to the White House for a commuted sentence.The letter is delivered to Democrat Bill Clinton by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Democrat father of Reynolds’ Democrat successor. Hours before President Clinton surrenders the White House to his GOP successor, he commutes Reynolds’ federal fraud conviction.
Back in 1995 the state Senate seat that covered much of Chicago’s South Side, including Hyde Park, was held by a popular incumbent named Alice Palmer. Given Reynolds’ legal predicaments, his House seat became a ripe target. Palmer announced her challenge
Alas for her, however, Jesse Jr.’s name recognition trumped her legislative experience and everyone else in the splintered field of competitors.
However, Palmer’s bid for that federal seat left her state Senate seat vacant. This Obama fellow stepped up.