The States of Corruption

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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.

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  • Aubrey

    Chicago may have a rep for corruption. We “break the rules”. But did it ever occur to people who so angrily state that Chicago is corrupt, that maybe we are simply fighting unjust rules, and refuse to follow them. For example, former IL governor (before Blagojevich) exercised his power to release and pardon an entire prison. This may sound corrupt, but given light of DNA testing lab being 70% inaccurate (as I recall) this was only fair, as almost everyone in this particular prison was convicted through this so called never-fail DNA”evidence”. Because a more lenient attitude towards drug crime means less people being considered “felons”, this allows people to actually WORK, without petty laws or law enforcements. This is probably why Chicago is so successful, wealthy, and beautiful.

    I think Florida is heavily corrupted. The only difference is that they do it “by the rules” so nobody hears about it. The laws they pass and carry out there are unconstitutional. Florida is a military state, with a high percentage of population in jail. Search warrants are carelessly awarded, and most of the natives end up doing low-life jobs because when everyone seems to have been arrested for something, they can only make their money off of tourists.

  • Corruption is rampant all across America now because our right to present evidence of criminal conduct directly to other citizens on a grand jury has been stolen by those who want to be above the law. Now, we have to beg a prosecuting prince to take action when crimes have been committed against us.

    For more on how our rights to control our government have been undermined, see the speeches by Patrick Henry and Mark Adams at the Florida reform leader rally in December of 2008 at http://blip.tv/file/1548118 and don’t miss the links below the video.

  • M.F.

    THERE IS NO MORE (REAL) FAIR JUSTICE ANYMORE. ITS NOT JUSTICE, ITS (JUST THIS).

  • Public corruption cannot be “mapped” simply by the number of convictions, as convictions only occur after complaints and investigations. For an accurate picture of public corruption, the complaints that are never brought to light “in the sunshine” need to see the light of day–on a national level.

    I am consistently mystified with “big media’s” seemingly deliberate lack of coverage of the massive governmental corruption in Florida that goes on day after day, year after year, completely unchecked.

    At present, the scandal surrounding Ray Sansom, Florida’s Speaker of the House, in particular.

    http://www.sacksansom.com/page/content/sacksansom

    Such governmental abuses of power are “business-as-usual” in Florida, but Florida corruption consistently goes unreported, and more importantly, uninvestigated and unchecked thus far by the Federal government.

    A well, in 2004, Florida passed unconstitutional legislation, the only state in the union with the unmitigated gall to do so, charging court fees to those who cannot afford to pay, whose numbers now increase exponentially on a daily basis, essentially holding hostage the Constitutional rights of millions of Floridians to access the courts without sale, denial, or delay, a basic tenet on which our government was founded. Said legislation not only robs from Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, those most in need of access to a just and honest judicial system, but it’s “hidden agenda” is just that–to keep those who are most often victims of injustice from ever having their grievances redressed–their day in court.

    As state and local budgets feel the pinch of the economic crisis, public services suffer everywhere, perhaps nowhere more than in our courts. The perfect storm of foreclosures has resulted in an exponential increase in the already crushing burden of civil and criminal matters, while the supply of public defenders and legal aid services shrinks. As citizens face decreased incomes, job losses, staggering medical expenses, and potential homelessness, they find that they are required to pay increased filing fees when they seek justice through the courts. The poorest and most vulnerable among us are inevitably the most cruelly affected. Meanwhile, the overloaded legal system becomes slower and more cumbersome than ever before, with the passage of time as always on the side of the wealthy and powerful.

    Add to this nationwide scenario the scandalous fact that Florida remains the only state in the union that does not waive court fees for indigent citizens. For the individual seeking an insurance payment from a powerful for-profit corporation, for the parent seeking a court-appointed attorney, for the battered woman seeking to free herself and her children from domestic violence, the paths to recovery are being systematically choked off by a system that does not care to serve its neediest clients.

    The State of Florida must be required to extend services to the indigent in a manner that is free of fees, daunting bureaucratic red tape, and the arbitrary discretion of court clerks. Such a system of justice for sale to the highest bidder is unconscionable anywhere in a civilized country.

    Florida’s courts do not retain all the fees that they collect; a substantial portion of them go to the state budget. That makes court fees an unreasonable back door tax, in conflict with the reasonableness of sales tax (Florida has no income tax) that allows residents to pay less in taxes simply by purchasing less. The state even charges an additional fee to state for the record that you have no money, which is preposterous.

    The state has other means to subsidize the budget rather than unconscionable indigent fees. Some civil servants are collecting wages and benefits simultaneously, taking advantage of a loophole that costs taxpayers millions of dollars. Those that can afford a computer to shop online to purchase goods from out of state can avoid paying sales tax on major purchases, having a dual detrimental effect of harming Florida’s retailers while failing to collect taxes necessary to balance the budget responsibly.

    I have been circulating a petition…
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/equaljusticeforall
    in hopes of drawing much-needed attention to this debacle of justice.

    My e-mails to Governor Crist, and those of other activists I know, have been consigned to the junk heap, as we no longer even receive his “roboresponses.”

    I have begun posting on my webpages all the Deleted Without Being Read e-mails I receive from Florida legislators . Their long-standing philosophy is that if they ignore a citizen(s) long enough, they will just go away and give up.

    Florida lawmakers and Florida “agencies,” especially and including institutions of higher ed, and agencies such as the Dept. of Ed/Dept. of Voc Rehab, Agency for Health Care Administration, Dept. of Health, Dept. of Management Services, and Dept. of Financial Services, are “politicians,” not “public servants,” and have no desire whatsoever for that status quo to ever change.

    In addition, I am in contact with other activists involved in Court Watch activities, who share with me their living nightmares in Florida’s corrupt judicial system.

    The many abuses of power and judicial injustices in Florida simply MUST be brought to light–and quickly–before more lives, families, reputations, and careers are destroyed–and more civil and Constitutional rights are spat upon.

  • Elaine

    Any kind of corruption is bad but did USA Today compare the kinds of corruption in each state?

    Maybe I’m wrong but I sincerely doubt that any city in North Dakota has people as bad as the Chicago Mafia.

    At least with the exposure of how corrupt Chicago is maybe people will now be willing to scrutinize Obama’s grandiose plans a little more carefully since he really cannot expect most people to believe he came away untained from a political machine he has been heavility involved with for almost 20 years.