Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Hawaii: “The only state in which both legislative and executive branches are perceived to be very corrupt”
By Selected News Articles @ 5:37 PM :: 7331 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii Statistics

Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the 2015 Corruption in America Survey

By Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston, Illinois State University, April, 2016

In 2014, we started surveying news reporters covering state politics in addition to the investigative reporters covering issues related to corruption to construct perception-based indices measuring two specific forms of corruption across American states: illegal and legal. We released the results of the first wave of the Edmond J. Safra Center Corruption in America Survey in late 2014. In the second half of 2015, we conducted the second wave of the survey. We contacted close to 1,000 reporters via email/phone. We received a total of 250 responses. Unfortunately, in some states (Delaware, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) we have a small number of responses partly due to small number of reporters covering state politics. Hence while interpreting the results from these states we should be cautious. We received no responses from North Dakota.​

In our survey 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. It is the form of corruption that attracts a great deal of public attention. A second form of corruption, however, is becoming more and more common in the U.S.: legal corruption. We define legal corruption as the political gains in the form of campaign contributions or endorsements by a government official, in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups, be it by explicit or implicit understanding. We asked reporters how common were these two forms of corruption in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government in 2013 in the state they cover in their reporting in 2013. The response scale ranged from “not at all common” to “extremely common.” For each reporter responding to the survey, we assigned a score of 1 if he/she chose “not at all common,” 2 if he/she chose “slightly common,” and so on. The score of 5 meant that the reporter responding to the survey perceived corruption to be “extremely common.” We then calculated the state scores as the median of these individual scores, which are presented in the tables and maps below.

Illegal Corruption in America

Except for Georgia, in none of the states is illegal corruption in government perceived to be “extremely common” in any of the governmental branches. In Georgia, the executive branch scores 5. It is nevertheless “moderately common” and/or “very common” in both the executive and legislative branches in a significant number of states, including the usual suspects such as Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York. West Virginia is perceived to be the most corrupt state with executive, legislative and judicial branches all scoring 3 or higher (3.5, 4, and 3, respectively). Among the states in which the legislative and executive branches are perceived to be corrupt, only in Oklahoma is illegal corruption in the judicial branch perceived to be less than “slightly common.” Delaware, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington are perceived to be the least corrupt states with all three government branches scoring less than 2. Only in Oregon is illegal corruption perceived to be “not at all common”.

Executive Branch

In more than fifteen states, executive branches score 3 or higher in illegal corruption. Although only in Georgia is illegal corruption in the executive branch perceived to be “extremely common” by the reporters it is, on the other hand, “very common” in Mississippi, New Jersey, and Hawaii and somewhere between “moderately common” and “very common” in Oklahoma and West Virginia.​

TableIE.png

MapIE.png

Legislative Branch

State legislators are perceived to be more corrupt than the members of the executive branches in a number of states. In almost half of the states, legislative branches score 3 or higher in illegal corruption. In six states, the legislative branch is perceived to be more than moderately corrupt. Hawaii is the only state in which both legislative and executive branches are perceived to be very corrupt.​

TableIL.png

MapIL.png

Judicial Branch

No states score 4 or higher in illegal corruption in judiciary. Nevertheless, even a score of 2 is still worrying since it is the judicial branch of the government that is expected to try government officials charged with corruption. In Arkansas, Massachusetts, and West Virginia illegal corruption in the judiciary is perceived to be moderately common. Both the executive and legislative branches in Arkansas and West Virginia are also perceived to be corrupt with the scores of 3 and higher.​

TableIJ.png

MapIJ.png

Legal Corruption in America

Legal corruption is perceived to be more common than illegal corruption in all branches of government. Executive and legislative branches score 3 or higher in legal corruption in a large majority of states. In five states, legal corruption in the judicial branch is perceived to be more than “moderately common” and in Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Montana it is perceived to be “very common”. In half of the states, both legislative and executive branches score 4 or higher and in Virginia and Georgia they score 5. In Louisiana legal corruption is perceived to be very common, not only in the executive and legislative branches but also in the judicial branch.​

Executive Branch

In half of the states, legal corruption in executive branches is perceived to be “very common” or “extremely common.” Mississippi, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Georgia, for example, suffer from not only illegal corruption but also legal corruption. Executive branches in these states score 4 or higher in both forms of corruption.

In Maine, California, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Nevada, Texas, New York, South Carolina, Montana, and Virginia, while illegal corruption in the executive branches is perceived to be “slightly common” or “not at all common,” legal corruption is perceived to be “very common” or “extremely common.”

TableLE.png

MapLE.png

Legislative Branch

Legal corruption in the legislative branch is particularly worrying in almost all states. In more than half of the states, it is perceived to be either “very common” or “extremely common.” Only in a few states do legislative branches score 2. Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Missouri, Maryland, Nevada, Texas, North Carolina, and Massachusetts suffer from only legal corruption, while Hawaii, Rhode Island, and West Virginia in which legal corruption is perceived to be “very common” or “extremely common,” suffer from both forms of corruption.

TableLL.png

MapLL.png

Judicial Branch

Legal corruption in the judicial branch is more common than illegal corruption. Legal corruption in the judiciary is perceived to be “moderately common” or more in eleven states and “very common” in Arkansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Montana. While in Louisiana judges are elected via partisan elections, Arkansas and Montana hold non-partisan elections. Among the states that hold partisan elections of judges, only in Illinois, Texas, and Ohio is legal corruption in the judicial branch perceived to be “slightly common.” Judicial branches in Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, and Wisconsin which elect their judges via non-partisan elections, score a 3. The majority of the states in which legal corruption in the judicial branch is perceived be “not at all common” elect their judges via merit selection. These findings should be of particular concern to citizens and officials alike, as in theory we expect our courts to rise above the day-to-day pressures and expectations of politics. That they apparently do not raises serious questions about the ways judges are elected in many states, how their campaigns are financed, and whether conflicts of interest arise as those who contribute to judicial campaigns are allowed to appear before those same judges as cases are tried.

TableLJ.png

MapLJ.png

Aggregating the Results: Most and Least Corrupt States

What are the most and least corrupt states, taking all three government branches into account? Although there is always some information lost in aggregation, which is particularly important in the measurement of corruption, it is still an important question. We simply add the median scores of each government branch and calculate the aggregate score of a state. The table below presents the states whose aggregate scores are in the highest (i.e., most corrupt) and lowest (i.e., least corrupt) quartiles. With respect to illegal corruption, Georgia and West Virginia are perceived to be the most corrupt states, followed by Hawaii, and a third group of states that includes New Jersey, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Oregon is perceived to be the least corrupt state, followed by Vermont, and a third group of states that includes Iowa, Maine, and Wyoming. Those findings are broadly consistent with a number of comparative assessments of state corruption over the years, suggesting that the extent of corruption in state governments is not just a matter of contemporary personalities and events, but is rather a result of deeper and more lasting characteristics and influences.

Georgia and West Virginia are not only perceived to be illegally corrupt but also legally corrupt. With respect to legal corruption, Arkansas and Georgia are the most corrupt states followed by Oklahoma, Louisiana, Montana, and Virginia while Washington and Wyoming are the least corrupt states followed Iowa and South Dakota. It is all bad news for Georgia, West Virginia, Hawaii, New Jersey, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Louisiana as their aggregate scores are in the highest quartiles of both illegal and legal corruption. Not so bad news for Vermont, Washington, Wyoming, Tennessee, Minnesota, Delaware, South Dakota Nebraska, and New Hampshire, which are perceived least corrupt both illegally and legally.

TableAG.png

Oguzhan Dincer is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Illinois State University and a former Lab Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. He can be contacted at odincer@ilstu.edu.

Michael Johnston is Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science at Colgate University (Emeritus) and a former Lab Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. He can be contacted at mjohnston@colgate.edu.​

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

New Hawaiian

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT