In light of the unfolding scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, USA Today ranks the states on their level of corruption with some surprising results. They determine the ranking by comparing the states’ public corruption convictions per 100,000 residents from 1998 through 2007. Surprisingly enough, the rating system determined that North Dakota has been the most corrupt state over the past decade. And Illinois, a state who’s last governor was convicted in 2006 for corruption and now its current chief executive was arrested Tuesday only ranks as the 18th most corrupt. USA Today includes an interactive map that tells you for each state the number of convicts over the decade, its population and the per capita convictions.
The paper interviewed the director of the North Dakota Center for the Public Good who gives some context. He said that North Dakotans know their public officials better than many larger states, and as a result are better at rooting out corruption when it occurs. Also, he said the state has encouraged bad government practices in some cases by weakening disclosure laws. Plus, the state does not require candidates for state office to disclose their campaign expenses.