Weekly Watchdog 2/16/12

State Corruption

Crooked politics is a state government specialty. Just look at Illinois. But what about the other 49 states? We’re undertaking an unprecedented look at transparency and accountability in the upcoming State Integrity Investigation.

Unlike previous rankings, the investigation does not rely on the number of scandals or a tally of recent officials sent to prison for graft. Rather, it grades every state on its risk of corruption by gathering data on a checklist of over 300 risk indicators across fourteen categories of state government -- from campaign finance, ethics laws and lobbying regulations to management of state pension funds -- as they apply in each state.

We’ll be ranking every state on March 19, but you can get a peek at the data now at www.stateintegrity.org. The project is in partnership with Public Radio International and Global Integrity.

Until next week,



William E. Buzenberg
Executive Director

Four Obama lieutenants ready to shill for PACs
At least four Cabinet members appear ready and willing to answer President Barack Obama’s call to help fill the coffers of Democratic outside spending groups, which have to date been badly outgunned by better-funded Republican organizations. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk have all indicated they would be open to participation in activities designed to help the nascent Democratic super PACs, like “Priorities USA Action,” raise money.

Michigan's emergency managers weaken democracy
New, unelected managers in four Michigan cities can nullify labor contracts, sell public utilities and dismiss elected officials. Citizens are crying foul.

Asbestos deaths bring 16-year sentence
Two former executives of a Swiss building-products conglomerate were convicted in Italy this week of causing the asbestos-related deaths of more than 3,000 people. Check out the Center’s 2010 asbestos investigation.

State Integrity Investigation data now available
Preliminary data from the State Integrity Investigation are available here. If you find it of interest, please pass the link along. Also, check out our state corruption sweepstakes contest here.

 

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