After a thorough investigation of corruption in state politics, the Center for Public Integrity has made up report cards for each state—and the results are depressing. Not one state managed anything in the A-range, while eight—Michigan, the Dakotas, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Georgia, and Wyoming—scored Fs. Coming in on top with a B-plus: New Jersey. Perhaps that's surprising, given the state's political reputation. But that reputation has prompted some tough anti-corruption laws; ditto for other possibly counterintuitive states in the top 15, like Illinois and Louisiana.
The investigation was conducted using 330 "Integrity Indicators," that fall into 14 categories, including internal auditing and ethics enforcement. In many cases, laws to prevent corruption are on the books—but not followed or enforced. A sampling of the depressing stories uncovered:
- More than 650 Georgia government workers took gifts from vendors conducting business with the state in 2007 and 2008.
- Tennessee hasn't issued one ethics penalty since it created a commission tasked with doing just that six years ago.
- A Maine senator didn't disclose millions in state contracts to an organization he helped run; a legal loophole made that a-OK.
- And there are more...