MSNBC/AP Breaking News:

Former Gov. George Ryan was indicted Wednesday on federal charges of taking payoffs, gifts and vacations in return for government contracts and leases while he was Illinois secretary of state.

Ryan, 69, a Republican known worldwide as a leading critic of the death penalty, gradually became the focus of a corruption investigation that began even before his 1998 election as governor. The scandal was a factor in his 2001 decision not to seek a second term.

The investigation initially focused on bribes exchanged for licenses for unqualified truck drivers but was later expanded to a range of alleged bribery and other corruption in the Ryan era.

Ryan, who served as secretary of state from 1991 to 1999, has said he knew there was a culture of corruption in the secretary of state̢۪s office but was unaware of the specifics.

The indictment alleges Ryan received illegal cash payments and gifts, vacations and personal services. It says members of his family got cash loans and gifts totaling $167,000.

The 22-count indictment charges that Ryan himself directed payments totaling more than $300,000 to prominent lobbyist Donald Udstuen.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.