After a very thorough investigation, the Center for Public Integrity made report cards for each state, judging their level of corruption. A total of 8 US states failed the integrity investigation, earning F’s for their sins. How many states got A’s? Depressingly enough, a big, whopping zero.
States considered at the highest risk for corruption are: Michigan, the Dakotas, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Georgia, and Wyoming. The highest scoring state (believe it or not) was New Jersey, earning itself a B+ and sitting proud on top of the list. Jersey’s status at the top may confuse some, given the state’s political reputation, but that reputation has actually played a part in the passage of some tough anti-corruption laws. The same goes for other states you’d expect might be getting an F grade that actually wound up in the top 15: Illinois and Louisiana among them.
So aside from Michigan, states you would expect corruption from are actually better protected against it. In a sense, maybe they know they’re bad and pass legislation to curb it. States you might expect to be idyllic and laid back actually seem to be the most at-risk, perhaps because they’ve never had to guard themselves against it (traditionally speaking).
The Center for Public Integrity conducted their investigation using 330 “Integrity indicators”, each falling into 14 categories including internal auditing and ethics enforcement. In many of the states, there actually are laws in place to prevent corruption, but they are largely ignored and not enforced. Some depressing factoids:
Over 650 Georgia government employees took gifts from vendors conducting business within the state between 2007 and 2008. Tennessee hasn’t issued a single ethics penalty since creating a commission tasked with doing just that six years ago. One Maine senator neglected to disclose millions of dollars in state contracts to an organization that he helped run; He got away with it because of a legal loophole.
Check the link and see your state’s score. Is your state considered at high-risk for corruption?