North Dakota Tops State Corruption List
By John Fritze,
Dec. 11, 2008
Federal authorities arrested Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday...
"If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States it's certainly one hell of a competitor," Robert Grant, head of the FBI's Chicago office, said Tuesday.
On a per-capita basis, however, Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007, according to a USA TODAY analysis of Department of Justice statistics.
Louisiana, Alaska and North Dakota all fared worse than the Land of Lincoln in that analysis.
Alaska narrowly ousted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens in the election in November after he was convicted of not reporting gifts from wealthy friends. In Louisiana, Democratic Rep. William Jefferson was indicted in 2007 on racketeering and bribery charges after the FBI said it found $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer. Jefferson, who has maintained his innocence and will soon go to trial, lost his seat to a Republican this year.
But North Dakota?
Morrison said the state has encouraged bad government practices in some cases by weakening disclosure laws. North Dakota does not require legislative or statewide candidates to disclose their campaign expenses.
The analysis does not include corruption cases handled by state law enforcement and it considers only convictions. Corruption may run more rampant in some states but go undetected.
Michael Johnston is a political science professor at Colgate University in New York — which is ranked just after Illinois for corruption convictions. Johnston, who has studied political corruption for 30 years, said places such as Illinois gain a bad reputation that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.