Investigation Finds Texas At Risk For Corruption

State integrity news for Texas, from State Integrity Investigation partner KERA:

Texas ranks in the bottom half of all states for being vulnerable to corruption. That’s one of the findings in the extensive State Integrity Investigation which looks at how accountable state governments are to their citizens.

Listen to the story from KERA - Dallas.

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Mass. Corruption Risk Rating Leaves Room For Improvement

State Integrity news from Massachusetts from SII partner WBUR:

How would you rate Massachusetts in terms of its risk for public corruption? Does the Bay State do a good job of enforcing campaign finance rules and auditing departments? Or are there too many backroom deals on Beacon Hill and too little access to public records?

The State Integrity Investigation evaluated all 50 states and Massachusetts came in with the 10th highest score, 74 percent, or a C. No states received an A, and only five received a B.

Listen to the discussion from WBUR - Boston.

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Utah Ranked 36th for Integrity in Government

State Integrity news for Utah from KCPW:

A new report card ranks Utah 36th among states for integrity in government. As KCPW’s Whittney Evans reports, the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International collaborated on the State Integrity Investigation, which shows Utah has room for improvement in political financing and legislative accountability, but does a good job of keeping state agencies in check.

Hear the story from KCPW - Salt Lake City.

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West Virginia transparency grade goes from 'F' to 'A' in one year

State integrity news for West Virginia, from the Charleston Daily Mail:

West Virginians are used to seeing their state listed near the bottom on every list of good attributes. But thanks to state officials, including state Auditor Glen Gainer, West Virginia recently made a move from the bottom to the top in one year's time. The liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group assessed the 50 states on their efforts to put reports of state consumption of public money online.

"It's just a great story for West Virginia in how a small state can move to the top of the rankings," said Ryan Pierannunzi, tax and budget associate for U.S. PIRG and a co-author of the report.

Read the rest of the story at the Charleston Daily Mail.

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Editorial: Partisan elections putting the wrong judges on the bench

State integrity news for Alabama, from the New York Times:

In a serious setback for justice in Alabama, primary voters chose Roy Moore to be their candidate for chief justice of the State Supreme Court in November. He is now the odds-on favorite to win. You may remember that Mr. Moore lost that job in 2003 when a special ethics court removed him from the bench after he defied a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building in Montgomery.

In all, 31 states are holding elections for their top court this year — multicandidate races and “retention” votes for a total of 73 judgeships nationwide. Requiring would-be judges to cozy up to party leaders and raise large sums from special interests eager to influence their decisions seriously damages the efficacy and credibility of the judiciary.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

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Rod Blagojevich begins prison sentence for corruption

State integrity news for Illinois, from the Chicago Tribune:

Convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich surrendered at a Colorado prison on Thursday to begin serving a 14-year sentence on corruption charges, with TV news cameras tracking his every step. News cameras followed the former governor being driven from Denver's airport and walking into the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood, about 15 miles southwest of Denver, where he has been assigned inmate number 40892-424.

"Let the sentencing for Gov. Blagojevich be a clear warning to all elected officials that public corruption of any form will not be tolerated. Illinois families have long suffered from an estimated $500 million hidden corruption tax," Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's office said in a statement.

Read the rest of the story at the Chicago Tribune.

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Tennessee takes step toward reforming judicial ethics oversight

State integrity news for Tennessee, from Tennessee Report:

Lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed Tuesday to compromise legislation that would revamp the Court of the Judiciary, an ethical watchdog panel charged with probing and punishing judges accused of improper or unprofessional behavior. Members of the committee found common ground on a list of provisions that will rename and reconstitute the makeup of the body with the intent of emboldening it to more aggressively investigate complaints against judges. The new board would also be required to report on its official inquiries to top House and Senate leaders.

“Nobody is completely happy, and nobody is completely miserable, and I hope that’s the situation we’ve arrived at,” Sen. Beverly Marrero, D-Memphis, said just prior to the 8-0 judiciary committee vote on Senate Bill 2671.

Read the rest of the story at Tennessee Report.


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Illinios legislator arrested on bribery charge

State integrity news for Illinois, from Illinois Statehouse News:

State. Rep. Derrick Smithwas arrested Tuesday on charges of accepting a $7,000 bribe to steer a state grant to a daycare facility. The Chicago Democrat’s arrest comes after a three-month investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois.

Smith agreed to write a letter of recommendation for a $50,000 grant from the Capital Development Board of Illinois to a daycare facility, which was a fictional creation of the investigators, in exchange for the bribe, according to the criminal complaint. Smith demanded a cash bribe, saying, “I don’t want no trace of it,” according to the complaint.

Read the rest of the story at Illinois Statehouse News.

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At least 42 Connecticut state employees took part in hurricane aid fraud

State integrity news for Connecticut, from the Connecticut Post:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration Monday announced that a probe into allegations state workers fraudulently sought federal disaster aid after last year's severe weather has caught 42 workers and cleared 685 others.

An additional 86 cases are in various stages of review, with another 240 applications under scrutiny.

"There's a lengthy process, here," Malloy spokesman Andrew Doba said.

Read the rest of the story at the Connecticut Post.

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Missouri fails to comply with Sunshine Laws

State integrity in the news for Missouri, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

State and local governments are routinely violating Missouri's open records and meeting law, State Auditor Tom Schweich said Monday while releasing a report highlighting dozens of problems over the past two years. Schweich said nearly 20 percent of the roughly 300 audits released by his office in 2010 and 2011 contained at least one violation of the state Sunshine Law.

The most common violations related to closed meetings. Thirty-four audits found cases in which governmental bodies failed to adequately document their votes to go into closed session. Twenty-nine audits cited government entities for discussing issues in closed sessions that did not appear to be allowed under the state open meetings law.

Read the rest of the story at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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