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.
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