Monday, March 19, 2012

Utah Ranked High for Corruption Risk in National Study

Posted By on March 19, 2012, 7:20 PM

The Center for Public Integrity released a report yesterday identifying Utah as ranked 36 in the nation for its anti-corruption safeguards, giving the beehive state a D grade for accountability measures in state government.---

In a study that shocked some the Center for Public Integrity announced that New Jersey was ranked number 1 in the nation for accountability measures and enforcement safeguards against government corruption in a study bearing the dismal outlook “50 states and no winners.”

The study’s investigators argue that while New Jersey may seem counterintuitive for finishing in first place as far as safeguards go. “The fact that New Jersey has sent numerous state employees to prison suggests its laws are strong, and rigorously enforced,” the study’s authors write.

Utah, however, joined five other states in receiving a D grade. No states received an A grade and most states’ fell between C and D grades. The lowest-ranking state was Georgia that achieved only a 49 percent grade for its safeguards.

Utah got dinged in the report for political financing since campaign donations are unlimited in the state and for a lack of an independent ethics agency.

Legislative accountability was another category where Utah flunked out. In that category the state suffered since there are no safeguards in place that would allow for the auditing of legislator’s disclosed assets, there are no substantive protections against legislators setting up nonprofits to evade campaign finance regulations and there are no laws to stop nepotism and cronyism among legislators.

Utah perhaps would have done better had newly passed reforms from the 2012 Legislature been considered. For example Utah recently passed a bill allowing for a public record’s ombudsman to help members of the public in requesting public documents.

Another bill allows for cities to create their own ethics commissions to investigate alleged municipal wrongdoings. If a local commission isn’t created citizens can take their complaints to a statewide ethics review commission.

For more on Utah’s score check out the Center for Public Integrity’s report here.

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