Louisiana Most Corrupt State in the Nation, Mississippi Second, Illinois Sixth, New Jersey Ninth
21 Corporate Crime Reporter 40, October 8, 2007

Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation.

That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter.

Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis.

Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10).

“If you type the word ‘corruption’ into Google News, the vast majority of news stories that come up are from overseas,” said Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, a print weekly legal newsletter based in Washington, D.C. “But public corruption is booming right here in the USA.”

“There have been more than 20,000 public officials and private citizens convicted of public corruption over the past two decades,” Mokhiber said. “That’s an average of 1,000 a year for the last twenty years.”

Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)

The ranking is based on data from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section’s 2006 report – which was made public just last week.

The 2006 Justice Department report contains a compilation of all federal corruption convictions by state over the past decade.

“We added up the total convictions for each state from 1997 to 2006,” Mokhiber said. “We then calculated a corruption rate for each state, which we defined as the total number of public corruption convictions from 1997 to 2006 per 100,000 residents.”

Here are the 35 most populous states ranked by their corruption rate:

Louisiana (1)(7.67), Mississippi (2)(6.66), Kentucky (3)(5.18), Alabama (4)(4.76), Ohio (5)(4.69), Illinois (6)(4.68), Pennsylvania (7)(4.55), Florida (8)(4.47), New Jersey (9)(4.32), New York (10)(3.95).

Tennessee (11)(3.68), Virginia (12)(3.64), Oklahoma (13)(2.96), Connecticut (14)(2.80), Missouri (15)(2.79), Arkansas (16)(2.74), Massachusetts (17)(2.66), Texas (18)(2.44), Maryland (19)(2.31), Michigan (20)(2.14).

Georgia (21)(2.13), Wisconsin (22)(2.09), California (23)(2.07), North Carolina (24)(1.96), Arizona (25)(1.88), Indiana (26)(1.85), South Carolina (27)(1.74), Nevada (28) (1.72), Colorado (29)(1.56), Washington (30)(1.52).

Utah (31)(1.4117), Kansas (32)(1.4109), Minnesota (33)(1.24), Iowa (34)(0.91), Oregon (35)(0.68).

Mokhiber warned that the study has its limitations.

“The Justice Department is reporting only public corruption convictions that result from a federal prosecution,” Mokhiber said. “Convictions that result from a prosecution pursued by state district attorneys or attorneys general, for example, are not included in the Justice Department statistics. But the vast majority of public corruption prosecutions – perhaps as many as 80 percent – are brought by federal officials.”

“Also, public officials in any given state can be corrupt to the core, and if a federal prosecutor doesn’t have the resources or the sheer political will to bring the case and win a conviction, the public corruption will not be reflected in the Justice Department’s data set,” Mokhiber said.

Mokhiber said that in the most corrupt states, corruption is undermining public trust in politicians and government.

He cited a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll released last week which found that New Jersey residents are increasingly suspicious of their politicians.

The poll found 60 percent of residents say there is “a lot” of corruption in the state, up from 34 percent four years ago.

The poll also found that New Jerseyans think 60 percent of legislators are willing to sell out to lobbyists, up from 52 percent four years ago.

Mokhiber said he thought it was a good sign that citizens groups, like the Better Government Association (BGA) of Chicago, were organizing around the issue of public corruption – even giving awards to corruption fighters.

Later this month, for example, BGA will present its annual Civic Achievement Award jointly to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago and the Chicago Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for rooting out corruption in northern Illinois.

Keynote speaker at the October 25, 2007 event?

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.


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