Tennessee adopted what were thought to be sweeping ethics reforms after four sitting state lawmakers were arrested on bribery charges. Ten years after the scandal rocked the legislature, however, there are questions about whether lawmakers have neutered the reforms and created loopholes as wide as the Tennessee River.
Political observers, moreover, say there are many ways to get around the state’s campaign finance regulations.
These are some of the reasons why this state of 6.5 million people earned a score of 66 and a grade of D from the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, an analysis of state transparency and accountability conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, ranking the state 15th. The grade represent a drop from the C Tennessee received in the project’s first go-round in 2012, but the two scores are not directly comparable; the new survey did not look into redistricting, which occurs only once every 10 years, for example, and additional questions were added on open data standards and election oversight.