New Jersey ranks among the most corrupt states in the nation, according to a new study, which surveyed political reporters for their view on the subject.
The study by two fellows at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics received responses from 280 reporters from every state except Louisiana, where none of the individuals contacted participated in the survey. Louisiana, the study said, is “historically one of the more corrupt states in America.”
Reporters were asked to rate their perceptions of illegal and legal corruption in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government in 2013 on a five-tier scale from “not at all common” to “extremely common.”
Illegal corruption is defined by the study as a government official receiving cash or gifts in exchange for specific benefits to private individuals or groups , while legal corruption is defined as a public official receiving campaign contributions or endorsements in exchange for specific benefits to a private individual or group, whether that’s through an explicit or implicit understanding.
Only in New Jersey and Arizona did the study find reporters perceived illegal corruption to be “very common” in the executive branch. New Jersey’s legislative branch ranked as in between “moderately common” and “very common” for illegal corruption along with New Mexico and South Carolina, according to the study, which put 10 states in the “very common” column for that category.
The survey found reporters ranked legal corruption in the executive branch as “extremely common” in only Kentucky and New Jersey. For the legislative branch, New Jersey, as well as Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada and New York, were included in the “extremely common” column for legal corruption.
Reporters put both types of corruption for the judicial branch in New Jersey in between “not at all common” and “slightly common.”
Overall, the study found Arizona is perceived to be the most corrupt state when it comes to illegal corruption, followed by California, Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois and New Jersey. On the other hand, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, the Dakotas, and Vermont are seen as the least corrupt states, followed by Michigan and Oregon.
Kentucky is the most corrupt state when it comes to legal corruption, the study found, followed by Illinois and Nevada. Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Vermont are at the other end of that spectrum.
But the study’s authors wrote that “it is all bad news for Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as their aggregate scores are in the highest quartiles of both illegal and legal corruption.”