Is Your State Among America's Most Corrupt?

By Edward Tan, JD on April 03, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A new study has ranked the most corrupt states in America.

The Center for Public Integrity graded all 50 states in 14 categories, including campaign finance, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, and access to information.

Analysts looked at 330 corruption risk factors in the study. They then assigned overall grades from A (least corrupt) to F (most corrupt). 

 And the results were rather surprising.

No state received an overall A grade. Of the 50 states measured, only five received a B. Eight states earned a failing grade. And perhaps most noteworthy, over half were given a grade of D+ or below.

Some of the states identified as the most corrupt include South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming and South Dakota. All received failing grades in many of the categories.

Georgia was ranked as the most corrupt state in America. The study cited the state's lax ethics enforcement laws and vast legal loopholes as the main reasons for its failing grade.

On the flip side, Nebraska, Washington, California, and Connecticut are among the least corrupt states with each scoring a B-.

And the least corrupt state in the country? New Jersey takes that honor with an overall grade of B.

This despite the state's checkered past, which consist of 150 guilty pleas or convictions against government officials on corruption charges. New Jersey, it seems, has some of the best anti-corruption and enforcement laws in the country.

The state requires detailed financial disclosures and internal auditing across many governmental departments, including its governor's office.

New Jersey has some of the best protections for whistleblowers, as well. Under the state's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA), employers who retaliate against whistleblowers face harsh penalties. In some cases, awards of nearly $1 million have been given to victims protected under CEPA.

Regardless of where most states placed in the report, the study shows that the country still has a ways to go in perfecting its anti-corruption laws. Especially the ones ranked as the most corrupt states.

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