Inside Publici

Published — March 22, 2012

Weekly Watchdog 3/22/12

Introduction

State transparency and accountability

In just four days our State Integrity Investigation — a corruption-risk grade card for every state — has been quoted, praised, assailed or otherwise cited by more than 200 media organizations, from The New York Times to NPR and dozens of public radio stations, and from Foreign Policy magazine to scores of local AOL Patch outlets and state newspapers and TV stations.

The idea of measuring accountability and transparency in state government seems to have touched a reformist nerve. Our state-by-state comparison, produced with partners Global Integrity and Public Radio International, has illuminated the often obscure, closed-door politics of state governments — from the budget process to pension management, from ethics enforcement to public access to information.

There is nothing like a failing grade, however, to prompt states to push for reform, and that is starting to happen, too. We’ll be reporting on where states are going right as well as wrong in weeks and months to come.

Until Next Week,

Bill

No “A” grades in state corruption risk index
State governments are largely doing a poor job delivering transparency and accountability to their citizenry. Meanwhile, statehouses remain ripe for corruption and self-dealing. This is the discouraging picture that emerges from the State Integrity Investigation, a massive, first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states.

In the ranking, not a single state received an A from the year-long probe, which is a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Public Radio International and Global Integrity:

  • Only 5 states got a B grade
  • Some 19 states received a C
  • While 18 got D’s

And 8 states received failing grades

New Jersey tops the list
It might seem implausible, but New Jersey had the best report card in the State Integrity Investigation with a score of 87, or a “B+”. Why? States with histories of corruption and scandal tend to have more recent and robust laws in place to deter such behavior.

Georgia is the pits
Geogia came in dead last in the state integrity investigation, with a resounding “F”. A combination of lame transparency and ethics laws and poor implementation won the Peach state its failing grade—and its number 50th state ranking.

Pro-Romney super PAC outpaces Romney campaign
Romney’s campaign showed cash on hand at the end of February of $7.3 million, which is actually far less than the $10.5 million that his super PAC Restore Our Future has in the bank, a strong indication of how important a role these organizations are playing in the 2012 contest. We have the latest on all the PACs.

Read more in Inside Publici

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