Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Critic gives most states poor grades for ethics, says 'small town' approach in some thwarts integrity

"State officials make lofty promises when it comes to ethics in government. They tout the transparency of legislative processes, accessibility of records, and the openness of public meetings. But these efforts often fall short of providing any real transparency or legitimate hope of rooting out corruption," reports Caitlin Ginley of State Integrity Investigation. The organization conducted a "first-of-its-kind" data-driven investigation into transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states and found that not a single state received an "A" grade. Only five got a "B" grade, and eight got failing grades: Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia.

Ginley found that across the board, state laws on ethics, open records and official disclosure lack teeth. Ginley cites "Open records laws with hundreds of exemptions. Crucial budgeting decisions made behind closed doors by a handful of power brokers. 'Citizen' lawmakers voting on bills that would benefit them directly. Scores of legislators turning into lobbyists seemingly overnight. Disclosure laws without much disclosure. Ethics panels that haven’t met in years."

Many of the states at the bottom of the list are "sparsely populated Western or Plains states" where Ginley writes that "a small-town, neighborly approach to government and the honest belief that 'everybody knows everybody' has overridden any perceived need for strong protections in law." (Read more) To see how your state measures up, click here for an interactive map which shows each state's integrity report card.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a moron! Illinois rates a C, 10th best nationwide!?! And we've got how many public officials in prison? Two governors right now...and probably a former mayor of Chicago, the present mayor of Chicago and the sitting president of the US headed there not far behind.