It looks like the Soprano State may need a new nickname. (click the map to enlarge).
According to a new study by the Center for Integrity, an organization that I have never heard of until this morning, New Jersey is actually the least corrupt state in the nation, scoring a B+ (the only B+ by the way, no one is even tied with us) and a numerical score of 87 out of 100. Doesn’t it feel good to be #1 in something other than property tax rates?
New Jersey, contrary to its national reputation, is not all concrete and blacktop; nor is the Garden State one giant, toxic waste dump; and the majority of its 8.8 million residents are not bed-hopping, scantily-clad, tough-talking beach bums.
And neither, then, is New Jersey the most corrupt state in the nation . . .
In a statement to NJ.com, Governor Christie took a bit of credit for this surprising outcome.
In the seven years I was U.S. Attorney and now the last two years as governor you haven’t heard in our two years in office any hint of scandal or criminal activity anywhere throughout the government. And if New Jersey is getting better and less corrupt that’s great news. Listen, if there’s one thing I know I can take credit for, it’s that.
To be honest, the Governor likely deserves more credit than he is going to get. While the headlines in the past have been riddled with large scale corruption busts against elected officials and other community leaders, it has certainly been a while since anything like that has come up. Governor Christie’s administration, in its first 2 years, has not presented even a hint of backwards behavior. Critics will point to idiotic events like the use of the state helicopter to get around (at the advise of the state police), but that is no where near the organ-trafficking, bribe-taking, and union-rep-felandering that New Jerseyans have had to deal with in the past. Christie’s hardline approach as a US attorney and his no-nonsense approach as Governor has kept things cleaner for the last few years.
However, the report is not all sunshine and rainbows; after all, we did only get a B+. New Jersey still apparently needs to make reforms to our regulation of issue-advocacy organizations, OPRA request appeal times, campaign finance bundling, and of course, lobbying.
Finally, I wanted to point out the score breakdown nationwide. Many cynics would likely scoff at a ranking like this and presume that some liberal group was using unrealistic methods to skew the numbers for the liberal, democrat run states. At first glance that does not seem to be the case.
Scores around the country seem to breach ideological lines. While its true that red Georgia scored an F and super-liberal California pulled a B-, Florida and North Carolina both scored in the C’s while New York and Maine pulled a D and F respectfully. It seems that corruption does in fact cross party lines as the average from coast to coast, no matter who is in control, is rather low.