Mirror mirror on the wall, which state is the most corrupt of them all?
The New York Times a few days ago had a fascinating story on that very topic, attempting to rank states based on the number of public officials who have bitten the public corruption dust.
What it found: depending on how you calculate corruption, Pennsylvania either ranks 4th, 17th or 13th.
If you calculate by the number of convictions in federal public corruption cases at local, state and federal levels in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three United States territories, Pennsylvania ranks 4th (with Florida taking the #1 prize). If you calculate by the number of guilty per capita, Pennsylvania settles comfortably in slot 17 (with North Dakota, rather bizarrely, stealing the #1 spot). And if you calculate it based on a survey of journalists (really, does it get more scientific than that?!), Pennsylvania ranks 13th.
But as Pennsylvania good government activist Tim Potts points out, the Times story doesn't take into account the state's fairly dismal record so far in passing good government reforms: although the legislature has passed laws to strengthen lobbyist disclosure and public access to government records, it has yet to take action on things like campaign finance reform, reducing the size of the legislature, and changing the way the state currently configures election districts.
"If we want to end corruption, or even minimize it, we need laws, and we need the best laws," said Potts.
To read the New York Times story and see its cool graphics, click here.