Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images.
A new report out Monday grades all 50 U.S. states on accountability and corruption, and the results aren't good. Maybe the country can ask for a curve?
No state was awarded an A, and only five got a B: New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, California and Nebraska. Nineteen had C's, and eighteen had D's. Eight failed: Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia.
So who's at the top of the class? New Jersey, with a B+ grade.
The states were judged based on a "data-driven assessment on transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption mechanisms," according to the report, which the Center for Public Integrity created with Global Integrity and Public Radio International. Rather than examine corruption convictions in the state—a previously used method to evaluate state corruption—the study looked at the risk of corruption based on existing laws, and how they're actually put into practice. The report found a gap between law and practice in many states, suggesting that existing reforms were not actually enforced.
New Jersey, along with many of the other top-scoring states, actually benefited from previous high-profile corruption: political corruption scandals can lead to tough ethics laws, the report suggests. "Legislators will react to a corruption scandal, and work to get political cover by enacting reform," Karen Hobert Flynn of advocacy group Common Cause says in the report. New Jersey and Louisiana (which also did relatively well in the report despite a reputation for political scandal) both have some of the toughest ethics laws in the country.
The full report, with an interactive map, is here.