What, Chicago is so short of accused grafters that we have to import them?

Now comes the news that the guy that was supposed to be watching the city of Chicago's money has been indicted in an alleged $500,000 kickback scheme while he was overseeing the state of Ohio's state investments.

On top of that comes even more news that the official, Amer Ahmad, was working as Chicago's comptroller for more

Amer Ahmad, former comptroller of the city of Chicago, was indicted Thursday on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, federal program bribery and making false statements. What better place for him to land than in Chicago? (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune / August 24, 2011)

Amer Ahmad, former comptroller of the city of Chicago, was indicted Thursday on charges of money laundering, conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, federal program bribery and making false statements. What better place for him to land than in Chicago? (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune / August 24, 2011)

than 10 months after he allegedly lied to the FBI to try to cover up the scheme during his time at bat as Ohio's deputy treasurer.

Now questions are swirling around City Hall and media newsrooms about just how much Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew about Ahmad's problems before he suddenly departed about three weeks ago to supposedly pursue a job in the private sector. There's such a stench about this story that even some alderman are--gasp, hack--calling for answers!

Just when you think that Chicago and Illinois politics can't get any more weird, the Ahmad story breaks with who knows what consequences for the mayor. The mayor's spokeswoman, of course, quickly issued a statement pleading ignorance on Emanuel's part. "We have no reason to believe and have no knowledge of any such wrongdoing during his tenure in Chicago," pronounced Sarah Hamilton, while refusing to answer questions about what did Emanuel know and when did he know it.

Hamilton, of course again, then threw in the usual Chicago Way assurances that whatever happened, we'll get to the bottom of it. "But we will take any action that is needed — including conducting a review of Finance Department activities over the last two years — to ensure that Chicago taxpayers are protected."

Excuse my cynicism but, yeah sure.

Just a side note: While some alderman are truly pissed, pissed they are, about the questions that this raises about the safety of Chicago's money, it should be noted that the Tribune astutely noted:

Once in Chicago, Ahmad became the point man for some of Emanuel’s more controversial cost-cutting moves. He sparred with aldermen over the decision to outsource telephone customer service jobs at the Water Management Department and helped spearhead the mayor’s plan to save money on health insurance by shifting retired city workers to President Barack Obama's new federal health care system.

Oh, trust me, this story is going to get more and more interesting with its twists and turns. But better get up to speed now.

Order an autographed copy of my new historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812" direct from my private stock at a large discount off the publisher's price. Go to www.madness1812.com

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    Chicago Tribune contributing op-ed columnist and author of forthcoming historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812." Reporter, editor and columnist for Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News. Freelance writer and editor.

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