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Illinois 10th least corrupt state in nation, according to new study

March 19, 2012

Online Staff Report

Just days after Illinois’ second-straight former governor began a prison sentence for corruption charges, a comprehensive study released March 19 ranked the state the 10th least corrupt state in the United States.

The State Integrity Investigation — a partnership of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International — used 330 specific measures graded by experienced journalists in each state to determine the rankings for all 50 states.

Each state received a report card with letter grades in 14 categories. Illinois, with an overall 74 percent rating, was given a C.

Following is the breakdown of grades per category for Illinois:

Public Access to Information — B-

Executive Accountability — C+

Judicial Accountability — C-

State Civil Service Management — D

Internal Auditing — A

State Pension Fund Management — C

State Insurance Commissions — C-

Political Financing — C+

Legislative Accountability — D

State Budget Processes — C

Procurement — B

Lobbying Disclosure — C-

Ethics Enforcement Agencies — C

Redistricting — F

Illinois is often labeled a “corrupt state.” A study released Feb. 15 by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois Institute for Government and Public Affairs ranked Illinois the second most corrupt state behind Louisiana (the District of Columbia was ranked lower than any state). However, the State Integrity Investigation suggested the label can be misleading.

A hefty number of prosecutions may actually suggest the system is working — corrupt behavior is rooted out and perpetrators are punished,” the report said. “States with relatively low numbers of convictions are not necessarily more accountable, but perhaps less equipped to sniff out malfeasance and go after the bad guys.”

To read “The story behind the score” for Illinois, click here.

States (with their respective overall grades and percentages in parentheses) ranking ahead of Illinois included the following: New Jersey (B+, 87 percent); Connecticut (B, 86 percent); Washington (B-, 83 percent); California (B-, 81 percent); Nebraska (B-, 80 percent); Mississippi (C+, 79 percent); Iowa (C+, 78 percent); Tennessee (C, 76 percent); Kansas (C, 75 percent); and Hawaii (C, 74 percent).

Wisconsin was ranked 22nd with a C- (70 percent). The Dairy State was given a D in Public Access to Information, State Civil Service Management, State Pension Fund Management and State Insurance Commissions, and an F in Redistricting.

The bottom five states were Maine (F, 56 percent); Virginia (F, 55 percent); Wyoming (F, 52 percent); South Dakota (F, 50 percent); and Georgia (F, 49 percent).

According to the State Integrity Investigation website, “The State Integrity Investigation is an unprecedented, data-driven analysis of each state’s laws and practices that deter corruption and promote accountability and openness.

Journalists in each state conducted interviews and research to score the indicators, based on clear scoring criteria,” the website added. “Editors at Global Integrity and the Center for Public Integrity reviewed the journalists’ work for accuracy and internal consistency. Experts in every state then independently reviewed the data.”

The study was funded by Omidyar Network and the Rita Allen Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Rockefeller Family Fund.

Posted March 19, 2012

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