A little more than five years ago, we launched LouisianaVoice in an attempt to bring political corruption in Louisiana into sharper focus. Two years ago, The Washington Post named Bob Mann’s Something Like the Truth and LouisianaVoice as two of the top 100 political blogs in the nation.
While we were quite proud to have been recognized by such a prestigious publication as the Post, that pride was tempered somewhat by the knowledge that we could never have achieved such a designation had political corruption not permeated all levels of government in Louisiana— from Shreveport to New Orleans, from Lake Charles to Monroe.
Now we learn that researchers Michael Johnston and Oguzhan Dincer, both former fellows at Harvard Law School’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, have been conducting a “one-of-a-kind” corruption survey over the past two years.
“The survey is designed to construct perception-based measures of different forms of corruption in American states,” Dincer wrote us recently. “We surveyed more than 1,000 news reporters/journalists covering state politics and issues related to corruption across (each state).
“…We were able to construct measures of illegal and legal corruption for each (branch of) government in 50 states,” Dincer said, adding that the results of the survey “quickly drew extensive and positive attention from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, FiveThirtyEight, and a number of regional newspaper and broadcast stations.”
The results of that 2015 study were published by Illinois State University and the researchers are now in the process of conducting an updated survey. https://about.illinoisstate.edu/odincer/Pages/CorruptionSurvey2015.aspx
So just what is legal corruption as opposed to illegal corruption? Isn’t corruption just corruption without the adjectives? Dincer explained the difference. “We define illegal corruption as the private gains in the form of cash or gifts by a government official in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.”
Legal corruption, on the other hand, is defined as political gains in the form of campaign contributions to or endorsements of a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups by “explicit or implicit understanding.”
“According to several surveys, a large majority of Americans, both liberals and conservatives, think that donations to super PACs, for example, by corporations, unions, and individuals corrupt the government,” the researchers’ report said.
The 2014 report indicated that the leading states for moderately to very common illegal corruption in the executive branch of government were Arizona, New Jersey, Georgia, Kentucky and Utah. States identified as “very common” in illegal corruption in the legislative branch included Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Legal corruption was found in many more states. Kentucky and New Jersey were identified as states where legal corruption in the executive branch was “extremely common,” while those where it was “very common” included Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York and Texas.
Legal corruption in the legislative branch was far more discouraging on a nationwide basis. States where legal corruption in the legislative branch was “extremely common” included Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
States where legislative branch legal corruption was called “very common” included Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
When all factors were taken into consideration, the states leading in overall illegal corruption were Arizona, California, Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Rhode Island and Texas.
Setting the bar for overall legal corruption were Kentucky, Illinois, Nevada, Mississippi, New Jersey, Alabama, New Mexico, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
States that showed up as most corrupt in both legal and illegal corruption were Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.
So, where did Louisiana rank in all these studies?
“Surprisingly enough, we received no responses from Louisiana, which is historically one of the more corrupt states in America,” the report said. http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/measuring-illegal-and-legal-corruption-american-states-some-results-safra
We knew there had to be a logical explanation. There just had to be.
Which brings us to the current survey.
“We are conducting the third wave of the survey this year and we would like you to take part in a short (5 minute) survey that will gauge your perception of government corruption in Louisiana,” Dincer wrote. “We will again be contacting as many news reporters/journalists as possible in this endeavor to ensure that our results are as reliable as possible. The responses are entirely anonymous and cannot be related to specific participants or institutions.”
So, to all political reporters—and that includes local government beat reporters and political bloggers—in Louisiana who may be reading this, here is the link to their survey.
Now that the legislative session is over and there is no gubernatorial election on the near horizon, there’s no reason for you not to participate.
Be completely truthful, candid and forthright and we can return Louisiana to its rightful spot at the top of the rankings.