The Most Corrupt States

The Daily Beast

has crunched some interesting data sets — convictions of elected officials, racketering & extortion, forgery & counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement — to rank the 50 states and District of Columbia by corruption.

Virginia ranks No. 2 on the list.

That’s either very, very good or very, very bad. The Daily Beast is not clear. (Here’s the story.) When a state is rated No. 2 on a list entitled “The Most Corrupt States,” the implication is that it is the second most corrupt. But the number of convictions seems pretty low compared to most other states, including such notorious places as New Jersey, New York, Louisiana and Chicago, so I’m assuming that Virginia is actually the second least corrupt state in the union.

If so, that’s pretty good news. By the lamentably lax standards of the day, the commonwealth is, relatively speaking, pretty clean.

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12 responses to “The Most Corrupt States”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Rhode Island has to be the worst. Followed by La.


  2. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views

    An embezzlement case in South Richmond makes Va. No. 2?
    What kind of Tina Brown nonsense is that?


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Looks like wishful thinking on your part Mr. Bacon. Check out the numbers:

    It is a weighted average and VA is the second WORST, not second BEST.

    Check who is number 51 — New Hampshire, 50 (second BEST is Montana) Congrats EMR.

    The only way to pull the bacon out of the fire is to:

    1. Attack the scoring system: Rank by crimes percapita Calif and Texas would look much better, claim that some crimes are worse than others (Mr. Gooze's point), etc.

    2. The worst ranked states (Tenn, VA, etc) are better at catching crooks than LA, NJ, Ill, etc.

    Good luck with the spinning — or just stick to the important stuff.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Peter – maybe they looked at land use issues.


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    With the second worst record for corruption in the US, why is Peter not telling his friend Cooch to get the bad guys. That would be a good way to keep him away from the ivy towers.

  6. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    As a Democrat, I'm sure I should be pointing at our statewide leaders and saying "yes, thank you Daily Beast, for calling them out." But that would be dumb. Because, really, there appears to be very little evidence of government corruption in Virginia. We spend a lot more time worrying about the appearance of impropriety than impropriety itself. Which is great. Sure, there's lots of good-ol'-boy stuff going on, sneakiness in how the legislature conducts itself, but that's about power, not corruption.

    Also, The Daily Beast is awful. But not as awful as The Huffington Post. What dreck.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    A no-bid multi-billion contract for Dulles Rail, Phase I, which is largely funded by increased tolls paid by Dulles Toll Road users, on the grounds that rail will take traffic off the DTR. However, even permitting Tysons to grow one-third larger puts so much more traffic on the DTR that Fairfax County is considering tripling MWAA's already increased tolls by 200%. Of course, the arrival of rail triggers the increased density for Tysons.

    Dulles Rail is planned for three stations, but a part-time employee, who was also an elected official in Fairfax County, gets a fourth station added in front of the employee's employer's place of business.

    Naw, Virginia's a good, clean state.

    We are as corrupt as New Jersey, Chicago, or Louisiana; we're just more sophisticated.


  8. Anonymous Avatar


    Good points.

    Those 'close to power' get the goodies.

    But why the Bad rating?


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Virginia was a very class-oriented colony and state. It had slavery, religious and property ownership tests for voting. The Elite and the rest of us. (So did other places.) State government seems designed to avoid direct decision-making from ordinary voters. There is no real initiative, referendum or recall provisions in the law.

    I've lived in Virginia, by choice, since 1984. There are many very positive things about the state and its people — both real Virginians and fake Virginians (like me), but there is also this at least tacit rule that holds members of the Elite have more rights and privileges than do ordinary people. IMHO, that leads to some of the at least soft corruption in Virginia.

    How can a so-called good government state permit a no-bid, multi-billion contract on Dulles Rail, Phase I? Is that Chicago, or is that Chicago?

    Look at the 2004 sales tax referenda. I don't know about the Hampton Roads matter, but the NoVA matter was clearly an attempt by some big landowners to get ordinary taxpayers to fund road improvements located near the landowners' parcels. is that New Jersey or is that New Jersey?

    Take a look at the Fairfax County staff's proposal for funding transportation infrastructure. Despite a 75-25 cost split that has been used successfully in both Loudoun and Fairfax Counties to fund Route 28 improvements and increase the value of commercial land in the corridor, that same approach was excluded by the staff because the Tysons landowners want taxpayers to fund most of the costs that enable them to have major increases in density. Is that Louisiana, or is that Louisiana?

    Maybe this is just soft corruption, but it's corruption nonetheless. It's not a political party issue either. Both Democrats and Republican officials seem to be willing to subvert the public interest for the benefits of the Elite. That needs to change.


  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Peter – maybe they looked at land use issues.


    Thats rich.

    You and I have to have dinner sometime.


  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Still have not seen Mr. Bacon admit that Virgina is second worst, not second best.

  12. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    I have emailed the author asking for clarification. No word back as yet.

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