States risk corruption because of weak laws
New Jersey ranks first in the nation on the strength of its laws ensuring government accountability and transparency, and Georgia ranks last. That is according to the report, “State Integrity Investigation,” which concludes that the states are not doing enough to protect open and ethical government, and that failure leaves them at greater risk for corruption.
No state received an ‘A‘ and only five states got a ‘B’ in the report published by the Washington-based nonprofits the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, and Minneapolis-based Public Radio International. The report used journalists and academics to compile data on all 50 states.
The researchers looked at 330 “corruption risk indicators” across 14 categories of government. Those factors included open records laws, campaign finance rules, budgeting, lobbying disclosure, judicial accountability, executive accountability, access to information, civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, insurance commissions, redistricting, pension fund management and ethics enforcement.
The report found that states with a history of corruption or scandal involving public officials, like New Jersey, often have the most effective ethics and anti-corruption laws. By contrast, the “quiet” states, according to the report, may have a higher risk for corruption because it is harder to uncover corrupt practices.
The top five states all received a ‘B’ ranking, scoring at least 80 out of a possible 100. They include: New Jersey (B-plus, 87), Connecticut (B, 86), Washington (B-minus, 83), California (B-minus, 81) and Nebraska (B-minus, 80).
The bottom eight states received an ‘F,” scoring 59 or lower. They include: North Dakota (58), Michigan (58), South Carolina (57), Maine (56), Virginia (55), Wyoming (52), South Dakota (50) and Georgia (49).