State Integrity Investigation

Keeping Government Honest

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"The state level is very important": CPI’s Bill Buzenberg on C-SPAN [VIDEO]

Bill Buzenberg appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” Monday morning to talk about the inspiration for the State Integrity Investigation and the project’s findings. The Center for Public Integrity's Executive Director spoke at length with host John McArdle about the investigation, answering questions about why New Jersey ranked first, why Georgia ranked last, and why CPI, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International got involved with the investigation in the first place.

“The work is very serious,” Buzenberg said. “Those who have looked at it recognize how detailed it is, and how it will last a long time. This is going to have a very long shelf life.”

Buzenberg pointed out that the State Integrity Investigation had already been cited as evidence in reform efforts in five different states.

Buzenberg also took questions from callers, many of whom had the same question: “How did my state do?”

One caller from St. Louis, Missouri rang in to congratulate Buzenberg and decry the often unnoticed power lobbying groups wield in state government.

"I really don’t think that people truly understand the influence that — moreso, that their local governments and their state governments have on their lives, rather than the federal," she said. "So many reporters report on the federal government…there’s so much being slipped through with state governments, it’s amazing."

Buzenberg echoed the woman’s concerns, saying the leverage special interests have within state governments is a major concern, particularly with a weakened local press to keep tabs on the flow of power and influence.

"Lobbyists understand," Buzenberg said, "that they can move into 30-some states, help change the laws in those states, and they could effectively change the laws in the whole country. So, the state level is very important. We’re seeing less watchdog work at the state level — that was the real reason and impetus for this."

Buzenberg’s appearance on “Washington Journal” can be seen in its entirety.

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