© 2024 New Hampshire Public Radio

Persons with disabilities who need assistance accessing NHPR's FCC public files, please contact us at publicfile@nhpr.org.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Purchase your tickets for a chance to win $35k toward a new car or $25k in cash during NHPR's Summer Raffle!

The Most Corrupt State In The Country Is ...

High-profile politicians have been brought up on charges in recent years, but which places do people think are most corrupt?
Collection Agency
flickr Creative Commons
High-profile politicians have been brought up on charges in recent years, but which places do people think are most corrupt?

Politics, power and more money than ever can create an environment ripe for corruption.

But which states are the most corrupt, and how is that even defined?

A poll out from Monmouth Universityasked Americans what they think are the most corrupt states. Overall, there was not much of a consensus, but New York rose to the top (with just 12 percent), followed by California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas.

New York's former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was brought up on fraud charges in February. He pleaded not guilty. Earlier this month, New Jersey's senior senator, Robert Menendez, was indicted on corruption charges. He pleaded not guilty and is vowing to stay in the Senate and fight.

Not surprisingly, there's a political divide. While Democrats, Republicans and independents all put New York atop their list, almost 1 in 5 Republicans (18 percent) said so, followed by California — the two largest Democratic-leaning states.

No. 2 for Democrats was Texas, the biggest Republican-leaning state. Independents went with Illinois as their second choice. Illinois, of course, is home to Rod Blagojevich, the former governor serving time for trying to auction off Barack Obama's Senate seat.

But is there any merit to New York's topping the list? Harry Enten at 538 offers this great chart that ranks states by corruption convictions, convictions per capita, what local reporters believed, and the lack of stringent laws.

New York does come up in No. 1 in overall corruption convictions, followed by California, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas. Of course, those are some of the most populated states in the country, with more representatives to pick from.

Per capita, Louisiana (which has had a string of elected officials go to prison), Mississippi and Alaska topped the chart.

As to how local reporters saw it, Kentucky was No. 1, followed by Illinois, New Jersey and Alabama.

Georgia had the least stringent laws, followed by South Dakota, Wyoming and Virginia. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was recently convicted of corruption charges.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.
Related Content

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.