Open records laws with hundreds of exemptions. Budget decisions made behind closed doors. Ethics panels that haven’t met in years.
Those are among the examples of corruption risk we found in the State Integrity Investigation, an unprecedented examination of America’s state capitols. The bottom line? Not a single state earned an A grade in the year-long investigation. Half the states earned D’s or F’s. Find out what your state is doing right and wrong. See your state’s report card.
Some states are making progress toward cleaning up their capitols. Yet many states’ anti-corruption laws are riddled with loopholes or barely enforced. Read an article on the Investigation's findings by Caitlin Ginley of the Center for Public Integrity.
When investigators examined the operations of a sprawling New York social service organization, what they uncovered was deeply troubling. Board members of the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council had almost no experience in nonprofit management. Several couldn’t name any of the group’s programs. Two of them could not identify the executive director, who in turn told investigators she was unaware of a fraudulent scheme carried out under her watch: Employees had squandered or stolen most of an $80,000 city grant.
As a result of that July 2010 report by New York City’s Department of Investigation, both the city and state quickly pulled the plug, suspending the organization’s grants, which provide practically all of its funding. But just as quick, the Brooklyn-based group won back it’s government support on the condition that it enact corrective measures, and today, the council has active grants from the city and the state totaling more than $50 million. Maybe that’s because the organization provides critical services, such as senior care and affordable housing, as a city spokeswoman said when funding was restored. But the council may also be thriving because its founder, Vito Lopez, was for years one of New York’s most powerful politicians — a state legislator who spent much of his career channeling that power through Ridgewood Bushwick.