The Center for Public Integrity recently released their 2015 State Integrity Investigation, which is “a data-driven assessment of state government” used to determine the transparency and accountability of each US state. While some states scored better than others, they found that pretty much every state has corruption problems, regardless of which political party dominates their elections.
The study gave each state a letter grade based on their assessment of “the existence, effectiveness, and accessibility (i.e. citizen access) of key governance and anti-corruption mechanisms through a qualitative and indicator-based research process.” Only three states scored above 70%, including Alaska which scored the highest with 76%.
The state of government transparency was found to be abysmal across the board, with several states even allowing entire branches of government to be exempt from open record laws. Even states that did have transparency laws, often failed to investigate ethics violations.
70% of the states have a clear conflict of interest on the matter, because their legislatures can vote on bills that involve their own transparency. In many cases, that alone appears to be the root cause of systemic corruption and limited accountability. According to Robert Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies, “It’s very, very difficult for legislatures to focus on these things and improve them because they don’t want these laws, they don’t want to enforce them, and they don’t want to fund the people enforcing them.”
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.