iWatch News, the media outlet for The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), released a report yesterday grading the accountability of the local governance for each of America’s 50 states. The results are somewhat surprising — so hold the New Jersey jokes.
The states to receive an outright “F” grade for failure to adhere to basic standards of transparency and political integrity include Maine, South Dakota, and Virginia. Colorado was also among the list of “F” grade states, with its presumably squeaky-clean neighbor Utah receiving a dismal “D” evaluation.
New Jersey and Connecticut were the two states to receive the best marks for local corruption — earning a “B+” and “B” respectively. All other states fell below that ranking, with California and Washington eking out a “B-” mark for their comparative lack of shady governance.
The criteria by which the CPI graded each state included the level of explicit favoritism, cronyism, and general contempt for their own laws exercised by state legislators and politicians. Much of the CPI’s State Integrity Investigation, the first of its kind, emphasized that an overwhelming amount of America’s states lack the legal mechanisms to enforce laws that would otherwise curb internal corruption — leaving an abundance of local channels through which the ethically questionable can exercise their favorite species of fraud.
The report highlighted that corruption was most endemic in states with low population density and comparatively little economic production. Great Plains states seem particularly susceptible to internal corruption, with the combination of libertarian-leaning governance and neighborly approach to local politics rendering these states hesitant to construct strict anti-corruption laws.
– Adam Patterson, InvestorPlace Assistant Editor