How Corrupt Is Your State’s Government?


Corruption and self-dealing run rampant in the U.S. Government, according to a new study, and it’s not just at the federal level.

State Integrity Investigation, the nation’s first data-driven assessment of corruption mechanisms in all 50 states, found that most state governments are doing a terrible job of delivering transparency and accountability to their citizens.

The study, which was a collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity, could not find a single state worthy of an “A” rating.

The top five most transparent and accountable states are:

  • New Jersey                  B+(87)
  • Connecticut                 B  (86)
  • Washington                 B- (83)
  • California                     B- (81)
  • Nebraska                      B- (80)

If you’re surprised to see New Jersey top the list, consider this: States with histories of corruption tend to have more recent and robust laws in place to deter such behavior. The investigation found that scandals often propel states toward improved transparency and accountability. In the aftermath of national scandal, Garden State lawmakers have passed some of the toughest ethics and anti-corruption laws in the nation.

North Dakota, Michigan, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia are the eight U.S. states with the embarrassing honor of receiving failing grades of 59 or below.

To compile these grades, State Integrity Investigation used local reporters to research 330 “Corruption Risk Indicators” across 14 categories of government. This data allowed investigators to measure the strength of laws and practices that encourage openness and deter corruption in a certain state. Results showed that “quiet” states may be at higher risk, because there are fewer means to expose corrupt practices.

These results are incredibly disheartening to the American voter and taxpayer. Since the outrageous Citizens United ruling, corporate money has been pouring into all levels of government. With so many states that lack the proper methods to catch and expose corruption, it’s become increasingly hard to believe that politicians have their constituents’  best interests at heart.

Want to find out how corrupt your state government is? Click here to access full report cards for each state, complete with letter grades and state rank among all 50 states. It also makes it easy to email the score to your state officials.

Related Reading:

Shocking Corruption In The Treasury Department

Blagojevich Gets 14 Years For Corruption

Most People Think Super PACs Should Be Illegal

Image via Thinkstock

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LD B.3 years ago

mike r. said "Tom Corrbitt is the governer of my state so it can't be that good of a grade for Pa."
And, yet, we ranked 18th with a C- (71%).

Sonya B.
Sonya B.3 years ago

When I lived in Georgia, USA I got a first hand look into its corruption because I and my family were victims of it thru a corrupt state agency Georgia Dept. of Community Affairs and also by corrupt courts who do not follow the law when pro se parties file suit in Georgia's courts in Atlanta, GA. Georgia deserves the F it got because public officials there rather ignore or even hid corrupt acts of its state employees than fix it. SEE MY STORY HERE AND OTHERS IN GEORGIA HERE

Jan Mach
Jan Mach3 years ago

I'm from Czech Republic (the member of EU). By my experience, all countries in EU and USA deserve the rating "Z".

Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

Ha ha ha've got to be kidding! I live in Arizona. 'Nuf said.

sme r.

I'm not at all surprised - as soon as Citizens United passed, it pretty much opened the entire country up to corruption, even more so than before.

Patrick F.
Patrick f.3 years ago

We talkin bout Wisconsin here?

mike rollo
mike rollo3 years ago

Tom Corrbitt is the governer of my state so it can't be that good of a grade for Pa.

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold3 years ago

Do you mean or are you saying that there is an honest government in any part of the USA, be it federal or state or city/town? I am not surprised to find that there is a question of the type that I suggested. I question every thing the government (at any level) does. Do they do it for their constituents or for themselves?

Jane Barton
Jane Barton3 years ago

The eight states that failed have all been taken over by GOP Nazi rednecks. All states below the Mason Dixon line should be in the failing category. Their governments are all run by old white crooks who are whores for Big Biz. We need to vote out these scum and get some progressives in state governments.

robert z.
robert zank3 years ago