Senate Vacancies Leave a String of Sordid Tales

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Amid accusations of widespread corruption, an empty seat in the United States Senate awaits a new occupant from Illinois, where the governor is not trusted to make the choice.

That was the story in 1927, when the Senate ultimately denied a seat to Frank L. Smith because of questions surrounding his appointment by Gov. Len Small. But it all sounds familiar today as yet another sordid tale is added to a long and colorful history of the intense machinations that come when the prize is appointment to the most exclusive of political clubs.

Given the prestige of a Senate seat and its magnetic allure to politicians, it is perhaps not surprising that when these vacancies come up, the process of awarding the office has become fraught with malfeasance and political peril.

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