State Integrity Investigation

Keeping Government Honest

Posts tagged scandal

0 notes &

Wisconsin Gov. Walker gives back $170,000 of improper campaign donations

The Republican governor has been raising large sums in recent months because the normal limits on campaign donations do not apply from the time recall petitions are circulated until the accountability board orders a recall election to be held. That has allowed Walker to accept as much as $500,000 from one donor — 50 times the normal limit of $10,000.

Filed under wisconsin progress scott walker 2012 election year wisconsin politics campaign finance politics state corruption corruptionrisk scandal madison milwaukee milwaukee journal sentinel

0 notes &

Arizona Senate shoots down bans on lobbyist gifts to legislators

State integrity news for Arizona, from the Arizona Capitol Times:

The Arizona Senate is rejecting a series of ethics measures proposed in the wake of the 2011 Fiesta Bowl scandal.

One of the proposals voted down Thursday would have banned lobbyists from giving free meals to legislators. Others would have prohibited campaign contributions by lobbyists to legislators or candidates for the Legislature and barred legislators from accepting free trips or tickets to sports or entertainment events.

Read the rest of the story at the Arizona Capitol Times.

Filed under arizona capitol times fiesta bowl scandal politics lobbyists legislators corruptionrisk state integrity investigation public radio international

0 notes &

Maine Governor, House Minority Leader push for reform after ‘F’ grade

Conservative Gov. Paul LePage and his liberal counterparts in the Maine state legislature disagree on many issues, but the two sides have found common ground: An ‘F’ on Maine’s report card is unacceptable. 

LePage, an outspoken Republican in his first term, is encouraging a piece of legislation that would expose state officials’ conflicts of interest and decrease the chances for legislators to line their own pockets with taxpayer money. Gov. LePage said this is the kind of reform that Maine needs to enact to improve the failing grade Maine received on its Corruption Risk Report Card.

On the legislative side, House Minority Leader Emily Cain, (D-Orono), said the report card raises substantive issues, and might inspire a bipartisan task force to review the findings and suggest changes going into the next legislative session.

The reform-minded responses are an encouraging sign for a state with nine ‘F’s and two ‘D’s out of the 14 categories under review in the State Integrity Investigation.

In the current session, LePage has already introduced LD 1806, a bill that would require public disclosure from state legislators, constitutional officers and executive branch members if the official or the official’s family member has an ownership or management-level position in a company that receives more than $10,000 from the state.

The proposed increase in transparency would set Maine on a path to an improved grade on its Corruption Risk Report Card, LePage told the Bangor Daily News:

"This is the direction we need to move in to improve Maine’s grade. It’s clear that many states struggle with this issue. However, it is an issue that I will continue to work on improving on behalf of the Maine taxpayer."

Cain floated the idea of a task force to review the problems highlighted in Maine’s failing grade, saying the group would “focus on feedback from the public and experts.”

A spokeswoman for Cain said the House Minority Leader was taking the idea to other leaders in the legislature to gain approval, in the hopes that the group could make suggestions before the legislature reconvenes in 2013. The spokeswoman said the task force would not look into “any one specific point from the report, but potentially use the report as a jumping-off point.”

With the statements from LePage and Cain, Maine becomes the fifth state to use State Integrity Investigation findings to support reform proposals, joining Delaware, Michigan, Ohio and South Carolina.

If you live in Maine and want to encourage your state legislators and Gov. LePage to enact reforms, click here to send the Maine Corruption Risk Report Card and a personalized message to your elected officials. Keep track of this and other movements toward more open, accountable state government on our Reform Efforts page.

Read more about reform in Maine from the Center for Public Integrity.

(Photo credit: Albany NY.)

Filed under Paul LePage government reform maine corruption scandal state politics Cain Bangor Daily News

1 note &

State Integrity Raises Questions About Good Government
By Gary Childress
Global Integrity’s research on corruption laws with state by state ranking certainly did bring questions in my mind.  I do understand that the research did not attempt to locate corruption but only looked at the structure to protect against corruption. One would expect a correlation between good corruption prevention structure and sound management and fiscal results.  Quite the reverse appears to be the case.
Recently 24/7 Wall St. published a study of the best-run states.  Wyoming was number one, Nebraskanumber two and if my memory serves me correctly the Dakotas were near the top.  The states at or near the top of Global Integrity’s list were typically the worst run states.
The various municipal credit rating organizations to the most part rate the bottom of the Global Integrity list higher credit than the top.  In fact most of the states with severe credit risk are near the top of Global’s ranking.  Why is there not a correlation?
I am not challenging your research, quite the reverse.  The fact that it leaves a question proves its merit.  As stated above: Why is there not a correlation?  This could be the question of another study.  The answers might be helpful to all states. 
There are likely many things going on other than the legal structure.  What are they?
Gary Childress is a retired businessman who divides his time between Wyoming and Connecticut.

State Integrity Raises Questions About Good Government


By Gary Childress

Global Integrity’s research on corruption laws with state by state ranking certainly did bring questions in my mind.  I do understand that the research did not attempt to locate corruption but only looked at the structure to protect against corruption. One would expect a correlation between good corruption prevention structure and sound management and fiscal results.  Quite the reverse appears to be the case.

Recently 24/7 Wall St. published a study of the best-run states.  Wyoming was number one, Nebraskanumber two and if my memory serves me correctly the Dakotas were near the top.  The states at or near the top of Global Integrity’s list were typically the worst run states.

The various municipal credit rating organizations to the most part rate the bottom of the Global Integrity list higher credit than the top.  In fact most of the states with severe credit risk are near the top of Global’s ranking.  Why is there not a correlation?

I am not challenging your research, quite the reverse.  The fact that it leaves a question proves its merit.  As stated above: Why is there not a correlation?  This could be the question of another study.  The answers might be helpful to all states. 

There are likely many things going on other than the legal structure.  What are they?

Gary Childress is a retired businessman who divides his time between Wyoming and Connecticut.

Filed under corruption good government laws usa corruptionrisk scandal

0 notes &

Delaware Gov. Markell supports increased transparency requirements for lobbyists

Delaware is the latest state to take action on improving its Corruption Risk Report Card grade. With a C- overall grade, Delaware ranked 22nd out of 50 states in the State Integrity Investigation. The overall score was hurt badly by the lack of effective laws and practices governing lobbying activity: Delaware’s 43 percent ‘F’ grade on the lobbying disclosure category was fourth-worst in the nation.

On Wednesday, state legislators introduced a bill to strengthen state laws on lobbyist reporting, according to State Integrity Investigation partner station WHYY.

If enacted, Senate Bill 185 would require lobbyists to report exactly which pieces of legislation they are lobbying for or against. Under current law, lobbyists only need to list which clients they are representing.

WHYY interviewed Gov. Jack Markell, who said the state needed to upgrade its laws to shed more light on how lobbyists influence the legislative process:

"How can you tell who’s working to influence the bills that could become the laws that will affect your life? The problem is, in many cases right now, you can’t, because state disclosure laws simply haven’t kept up. This proposal helps solve that problem, bringing needed light to the process," Markell said.

Markell told WHYY that Delaware had already taken steps toward earning a better grade on a future version of the State Integrity Investigation.

Filed under corruption scandal delaware politics reform policy voters rights Lobbyist lobby disclosure Campaign Finance campaign donations Jack Markell

0 notes &

Keeping New Jersey open: Update planned for open records, sunshine laws

Loretta Weinberg used to work in a hospital. At trying moments, when other employees complained about the workload and the more demanding patients, Weinberg had a response ready.

“I used to say, ‘You know, it would be a lot easier around here if we didn’t have these patients around here, needing food and medicine the way that they do,’” Weinberg said.

Weinberg’s tongue-in-cheek line was a gentle reminder of the people the hospital was actually meant to serve. Now, as the New Jersey Senate Majority Leader, Weinberg (D-Bergen) often finds herself making the same point to her fellow legislators and public servants. Only, instead of patients needing food and medicine, she’s reminding her colleagues about taxpaying citizens who need access to information and accountability.

That’s why Weinberg is pushing for a revised and improved version of the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and Open Public Meetings Act, or “sunshine” laws.

“Government officials, a lot of them, they consider it annoying,” Weinberg said, referring generally to citizen’s demands for access to information and meetings. “And you know what? From time to time it is annoying — but it’s the price we pay.”

Bill S-1452, Weinberg’s update of the OPRA law, would allow for state agencies or officials to e-mail requested records as opposed to the more tedious and expensive method of printing out and mailing hard copies. Another aspect of Weinberg’s open records bill would grant access to New Jersey’s public documents to non-New Jersey residents.

Despite the bill’s potential benefit to a national audience, Weinberg (pictured, right) said it’s inspired by things she hears locally, saying she fields complaints about public records access from her constituents “all the time.”

The bill would create penalties for “gross negligence” on behalf of public employees who have failed to honor a records request. But the measure is not meant to be punitive: After consulting with municipal-level clerks, who often handle requests, Weinberg loosened the timelines that would constitute a violation.

Having sought input from civil servants and open government advocates, Weinberg thinks her bill strikes a balance, upgrading the state’s openness while protecting the state from frivolous or excessive requests, like the recent inquiry for all e-mails that contained the word “the.”

For the meetings law, Weinberg’s proposed upgrade (S-1451) would require public bodies to post advance notice of meetings online, and, after the fact, publish meeting minute and any actions taken to the body’s website. Weinberg says the move would help bring New Jersey into the digital age, pointing out that when the laws were originally written, “the word Internet had not been coined yet.” Another example of Weinberg’s attempt to bring the law up to speed with technology would prohibit two members of a public body from communicating with each other privately by e-mail or text message during the course of a public meeting.

If the proposed improvements make it to an up-or-down vote on the floor, Weinberg is confident the bills will pass.

“Once you get it before the legislature,” she said, “very few people have the nerve to vote no on an open public records or an open public meetings act.”

(Source: stateintegrity.org)

Filed under open data Transparency FOIA corruption sunshine laws new jersey politics scandal