Big money fuels state politics, often without transparency or oversight

Campaign donations are the most direct way for money to influence politics. As state gubernatorial and legislative candidates begin to ramp up their campaigns for election day, now seems like a good time to draw attention to the laws and practices that govern the political financing of those candidates and their parties.

The State Integrity Investigation results in the political financing category should have a chilling effect on voters who want an honest process behind campaign funding in their state. Only one state got an 'A' grade, and six got a 'B-' or better; at the bottom of the category rankings, 21 states got a grade of 'D-' or worse.

Connecticut finished first in the State Integrity Investigation's results for the political financing category, scoring a 96 percent and receiving the only 'A' grade. The state got a perfect 100 percent score on indicators that looked into state laws governing campaign financing. Connecticut's candidates' and parties' donation records are readily available to the public. The reports are routinely audited, and violators of political finance laws are subject to investigations and penalties.

In his "Story behind the score," reporter Paul E. Stern gives credit for the tidy nature of Connecticut campaign financing to the "ground-breaking system of publicly financed elections."

Wyoming ranks 50th due to the absence of state laws and practices governing campaign finance donations. The state has no limits on donations from individuals to political parties -- and that lack of boundaries extends to lobbyists as well, who are allowed to give as much as their hearts desire and their checkbooks allow.

On risk indicators measuring  the effectiveness of the agency tasked with enforcing political financing laws, Wyoming reporter Bill McCarthy notes, "There is no agency monitoring the process."

Here's the full list of rankings for the political financing category, followed by the state's overall scores and grade results:


1. Connecticut - 96%, 'A'
Connecticut overall - 86%, 'B'
2. Rhode Island - 87%, 'B'
Rhode Island overall - 75%, C
3. Hawaii - 86%, 'B'
Hawaii overall - 74%, 'C'
4. Massachusetts - 85%, 'B'
Massachusetts overall - 74%, 'C'
5. Vermont - 81%, 'B'
Vermont overall - 69%, 'D+'
6. California - 80%,'B-' 
California overall - 81%, 'B-'
7. West Virginia - 79%, 'C+'
West Virginia overall - 68%, 'D+'
7. Washington - 79%, 'C+'
Washington overall - 83%, 'B-'
7. New Jersey - 79%, 'C+'
New Jersey overall - 87%, 'B+'
7. Illinois - 79%, 'C+'
Illinois overall - 74%, 'C'
11. Oklahoma - 77%, 'C+'
Oklahoma overall - 64%, 'D'
11. Alaska - 77%, C+
Alaska overall - 68%, 'D+'
13. Kentucky 75%, 'C'
Kentucky overall - 71%, 'C-'
13. Maryland 75%, 'C'
Maryland overall - 61%, 'D-'
13. Colorado 75%, 'C'
Colorado overall - 67%, 'D+'
13. Idaho 75%, 'C'
Idaho overall - 61%, 'D-'
13. Kansas 75%, 'C'
Kansas overall - 75%, 'C'
18. Iowa 74%, 'C'
Iowa overall - 78%, 'C+'
19. Tennessee 73%, 'C-'
Tennessee overall - 76%, 'C'
19. North Carolina 73%, 'C-'
North Carolina overall - 71%, 'C-'
19. Wisconsin 73%, 'C-'
Wisconsin overall - 70%, 'C-'
22. Ohio 70%, 'C-'
Ohio overall - 66%, 'D'
23. Maine 68%, 'D+'
Maine overall - 56%, 'F'
24. Arizona 67%, 'D+'
Arizona overall - 68%, 'D+'
24. Delaware 67%, 'D+'
Delaware overall - 70%, 'C-'
25. Arkansas 66%, 'D'
Arkansas overall - 68%, 'D'
25. Montana 66%, 'D'
Montana overall - 68%, 'D+'
28. Minnesota 65%, 'D'
Minnesota overall - 69%, 'D+'
29. New Hampshire 64%, 'D'
New Hampshire overall - 66%, 'D'
30. Louisiana 63%, 'D-'
Louisiana overall - 72%, 'C-'
31. South Carolina 62%, 'D-'
 South Carolina overall - 57%, 'F'
31. Oregon 62%, 'D-'
Oregon overall - 73%, 'C-'
32. New Mexico 61%, 'D-'
 New Mexico overall - 62%, 'D-'
32. Florida - 61%, 'D-'
Florida overall - 71%, 'C-'
35. Nebraska - 60%, 'D-'
Nebraska overall - 80%, 'B-'
35. Nevada - 60%, 'D-'
Nevada overall - 60%, 'D-'
35. New York - 60%, 'D-'
New York overall - 65%, 'D'
35. Texas - 60%, 'D-'
Texas overall - 68%, 'D+'
39. Missouri - 59%, 'F'
Missouri overall - 72%, 'C-'
40. North Dakota - 58%, 'F'
North Dakota overall - 58%, 'F'
40. Georgia - 58%, 'F'
Georgia overall - 49%, 'F'
40. Michigan - 58%, 'F'
Michigan overall -  58%, 'F'
43. Mississippi - 57%, 'F'
Mississippi overall - 79%, 'C+'
44. Indiana - 56%, 'F'
Indiana overall - 70%, 'C-'
45. South Dakota - 54%, 'F'
South Dakota overall - 50%, 'F'
46. Virginia - 47%, 'F'
Virginia overall - 55%, 'F'
47. Pennsylvania - 46%, 'F'
Pennsylvania overall - 71%, 'C-'
48. Alabama - 44%, 'F'
Alabama overall - 72%, 'C-'
49. Utah - 39%, 'F'
Utah overall 65%, 'D'
50. Wyoming - 33%, 'F'
Wyoming overall - 52%, 'D'

Do you like this post?