Facing South

Southern states among those at highest risk for corruption

A groundbreaking assessment of anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states finds that several in the South are at particularly high risk of corruption -- and none in the region are among the top grade-earners.

The State Integrity Investigation -- a partnership between the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International -- released full state report cards handing out letter grades for corruption risk. The analysis was carried out by experienced journalists who graded each state government using over 300 measures looking at campaign finance, ethics laws, lobbying regulations and management of state pension funds.

The State Integrity Investigation "is not a measure of morality or good behavior of the people serving in state government," the project's blog explains. "Rather, it is a test of the structure that governs the government, documenting the laws on the books and investigating the actions that enforce those laws."

Among the eight states that received failing grades of 58 percent or less, three were in the South: South Carolina at 57 percent, Virginia at 55 percent, and Georgia, which at 49 percent ranked lowest among all the states in terms of corruption protections.

The project observes that "Georgia's ethics laws are loaded with loopholes and are poorly enforced." It attributes South Carolina's low score to its "weak asset disclosure law, loophole-ridden campaign finance regulations, and toothless ethics commission." And Virginia ranks near the bottom because it has "no state ethics commission, no campaign finance limits, and lax oversight rules."

New Jersey received the highest grade in the nation at 87 percent, a B-plus. No states in the South earned any higher than a C grade, with Mississippi getting a C-plus at 79 percent and Tennessee getting a C with 76 percent. The average grade for all 13 Southern states* was 67 percent -- a D-plus.

To see where your state ranks and why, click here.

* Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

(Map of states color-coded by corruption risk, with states in red being at highest risk and those in green at lowest, from State Integrity Investigation.)

Facing South
Facing South
Appreciate this post? Please donate & share below.
Reddit »



People Referenced:


Corruption, elections, Florida, etc.

First the corruption report last month that showed Blagojevich’s own Illinois (and Chicago) leading the pack, and Florida trailing not far behind…now this State Integrity report. I’m sure the previous month’s “winners” are glad to have not taken the crown this time around. But seriously, I truly hope these reports lead to much needed change. If the public takes these findings seriously and subsequently starts demanding that our leaders be held accountable then I’m sure some long-lasting improvements may result from the harsh truths revealed by the data presented in these reports. The corruption, lack of integrity, and lack of accountability is both sad and endemic. On a related note, a jurisdiction in Florida is now inadvertently setting itself up for an election fiasco that involves a corrupt judge who has several co-conspirators. You can’t make this stuff up...unfortunately it's 100% true and corroborated by two reports and extensive irrefutable evidence that is in the possession of agencies, including those within Florida's 8th Judicial Circuit (and Chief Judge Martha Lott and Chief Investigator Spencer Mann). The judge, and former prosecutor, at the heart of the issue is David P. Kreider. Take a look at


for more information. I say prison sentences for all those who think they are above the law, especially public servants whom we should be able to trust. Then and only then will the governmental paradigm undergo the shift that is so dearly needed. Unfortunately the lack of ethics, lack of honor, and lack of concern for one’s fellow man has infected governments worldwide on both an institutional and cultural level.

As a North Carolinian who saw

As a North Carolinian who saw his state legislature get bought by Art Pope in 2010, I can attest to the corruption in this state. I am not surprised by this one bit.

Post new comment

You may enter comments here to publicly respond to this article. If you are having trouble posting your comment, please contact help@southernstudies.org.
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.