Former Gov. Otto Kerner focus of conference

SPRINGFIELD – Former Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner’s complex legacy will be the focus of an upcoming conference at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The daylong conference next month will feature political experts, former Kerner aides and journalists who will assess the state’s 33rd governor.

Kerner was a Chicago Democrat who won his first term in 1960. As governor, he modernized state services for the mentally ill and backed a statewide system of community colleges.

Kerner left the governor’s office and was appointed to the federal bench. His time as a judge was cut short by accusations that he had accepted bribes as governor.

Kerner was convicted in 1973 for mail fraud, conspiracy and perjury. Now, some are questioning the case against him and the legal theory underlying the charges.