Secrecy and Corruption Seen in Most State Governments in U.S.

Thursday, November 19, 2015
(graphic: Getty Images)

Nearly all state governments in the United States are doing a poor job of eliminating corruption and secrecy, a new study shows.


The Center of Public Integrity and Global Integrity delved into the problems of public corruption, transparency and accountability at the state level, and researchers came away with sobering results.


Using a standard A-F grading system, the center assigned 47 state governments a grade D or lower.


Only Alaska (C grade), California and Connecticut (both C-) came out acceptably in the grading.


A total of 11 states flunked the 2015 State Integrity Investigation: Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Wyoming. These states failed because their state governments lack systems to prevent and expose corruption.


“In the last three years, at least 12 states have seen their legislative leaders or top cabinet-level officials charged, convicted, or resign as a result of ethics or corruption-related scandal,” wrote Andrew Emett at The Free Thought Project regarding the investigation’s findings. “At least five House or Assembly leaders have also fallen.”


Additionally, wrote Emett, “[a]t least 36 states have voted on bills that may present a conflict of interest.”


The absolute worst state was Michigan, which got F’s in 10 of the 13 categories of government operations examined. “While doubling political contribution limits and overriding Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s decision to end dark money, Michigan legislators are also allowed to accept nominal gifts but are not required to report the legalized bribes. Under the weak disclosure rules, it is the lobbyist’s duty to report these gifts, not the lawmaker,” wrote Emett.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

All 50 States were Just Given a Corruption Test, All But 3 Made D’s and F’s (by Andrew Emett, Free Thought Project)

State Integrity 2015 (Center for Public Integrity)

Is Louisiana the Most Corrupt State or just the Best at Convicting Corrupt Officials? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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