50 years later, Illinois’ ‘Shoebox Scandal’ still amazes

VIENNA, Ill. (AP) — When Paul Powell, a political legend in southern Illinois, died unexpectedly, he left behind a stunning secret: $800,000 in unexplained cash.

Powell’s death came 50 years ago, on Oct. 10, 1970, and days later, the executor of his estate discovered the money stuffed in containers, including shoeboxes, in Powell’s suite at a Springfield hotel.

Even in a state known for political corruption, it remains one of the more notorious — and mysterious — sources of political intrigue in history. It also pointed out the need for campaign-finance disclosure laws, and many of today’s rules stem from the incident.