Q: Why does New Jersey have all the Superfund sites and California have all the lawyers?
A: New Jersey got to choose first.
The State Integrity Investigation describes itself as “a $1.5 million public collaboration designed to expose practices that undermine trust in state capitols — and spotlight the states that are doing things right.” It has conducted a study of the corruption risk – not the current level of corruption – in all 50 states.
The idea was to develop criteria to evaluate the risk of corruption. Judging by the number of convictions – Illinois’s four governors who have gone to jail; Massachusetts’ three consecutive house speakers who are in the pen – was deemed too variable. Aggressive prosecutors, federal enforcement when the state governments get corrupt; it was found to be an imprecise measure. Which is just as well, given Alaska’s recent history.
Alaska got a D+ and ranked 27th, just barely in the bottom half. Close call. We nearly flunked! New Jersey finished first.
The limits of WordPress won’t allow WC to put a full link to the graphic here, but here’s a screen shot of Alaska’s report card:
Oddly enough, WC finds the grading to be too generous. If you’ve ever tried to find recent campaign financial reports in the Alaska Public Offices Commission’s on-line database, you know better than to give it a C+, and if you’ve ever tried to find lobbyist reports you know a C is incredibly generous. From the track record of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Qualifications, which is in charge of policing state judges, you’d think the judiciary deserved halos.
Ethics Enforcement Agencies? Two words: Ben Stevens. See what WC means? A C- is very generous. WC’s teachers were a lot tougher with the red pencils than the SII.
If Alaska indeed ranks 27th, the 23 states that are worse must be very bad indeed.
(Memo to The Newt: Perhaps you could direct your considerable energies to your avowed “home state” of Georgia which, on the evidence, could use some help. You have that personal experience in corruption, after all.)
The Anchorage Daily News’ Sean Cockerham has written a nice article on Alaska’s rating, which WC commends to this readers.