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updated: 2/6/2014 8:30 PM

Chicago alderman backs ex-con for county board

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Associated Press

A least one Chicago alderman doesn't believe the criminal record of a former colleague should stand in the way of him seeking another public office.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Alderman Emma Mitts is throwing her support behind former Alderman Isaac Carothers in his bid for a seat on the Cook County Board. Carothers resigned from the city council in disgrace before going to prison for bribery and tax fraud.

Illinois Board of Elections documents indicate Mitts is the chairwoman of the Friends of Ike Carothers committee, the political organization behind Carothers' election bid. Mitts said Carothers has been humbled by his fall.

"He used to have this attitude of swag. He had a walk of power, throwing his weight around -- I didn't see that anymore," said Mitts.

She noted that some of her West Side constituents have spent time in jail or prison, saying: "When they come back they don't get a hand, they can't get no help."

Carothers in 2010 pleaded guilty to federal bribery and tax fraud and was sentenced to 28 months in prison. His father, former Alderman William Carothers, went to prison in the 1980s for extortion.

Voters in the past haven't been very forgiving of convicted politicians who have tried to return to office, said Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor.

"A number have tried ... No one has succeeded," said Simpson, a former Chicago alderman.

He referred to the case of former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds is one example. Reynolds was convicted in 1995 of having sex with an underage campaign worker and campaign fund improprieties. He failed in a 2004 comeback attempt, and was largely ignored by voters last year when he ran for the 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr.

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