Politics, power and more money than ever can create an environment ripe for corruption.
But what are the most corrupt states, and how is that even defined?
A poll out from Monmouth University asked Americans what they think are the most corrupt states. Overall, there was not much of a consensus, but New York rose to the top (with just 12 percent), followed by California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas.
New York’s former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was brought up on fraud charges in February. He pleaded not guilty. Earlier this month, New Jersey’s senior Sen. Robert Menendez was indicted on corruption charges. He pleaded not guilty and is vowing to stay in the Senate and fight.
Not surprisingly, there’s a political divide. While Democrats, Republicans and independents all put New York atop their list, almost 1 in 5 Republicans (18 percent) said so, followed by California — the two largest Democratic-leaning states.
No. 2 for Democrats was Texas, the biggest Republican-leaning state. Independents went with Illinois as their second choice. Illinois, of course, is home to Rod Blagojevich, the former governor serving time for trying to auction off Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
But is there any merit to New York topping the list? Harry Enten at 538 with this great chart that ranks states by corruption convictions, convictions per capita, what local reporters believed, and the lack of stringent laws.
New York does come up in No. 1 in overall corruption convictions, followed by California, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas. Of course, those are some of the most populated states in the country with more representatives to pick from.
Per capita, Louisiana (which has had a string of elected officials go to prison), Mississippi and Alaska topped the chart.
By how local reporters saw it, Kentucky was No. 1, followed by Illinois, New Jersey and Alabama.
Georgia had the least stringent laws, followed by South Dakota, Wyoming and Virginia. Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was recently convicted on corruption charges.