A new report card from the State Integrity Investigation scores Washington ethics laws for preventing corruption as some of the best in the country. The grade? B- Compared to the competition (eight states failed and none got an A), that grade ends up being pretty good for government work. So why exactly did we get such a high grade?
You had to be a real strong lady to come west on a wagon train on the Oregon Trail, cook, care for the kids and carry your load," said John Hughes, chief historian for the state's Legacy Project. "Women played a key role in campaigning for more open government.
They cite women like former U.S. Representative Jolene Unsoeld who helped with the creation of the Public Disclosure Commission in 1972 and the Public Records Act, containing:
provisions regarding campaign finance, lobbying and personal financial affairs reporting. The statute also required that government agencies publish blueprints on how the public might obtain information and describe procedures for protecting records from damage or disorganization.
They also credit our elected-only judiciary and our quasi-independent revenue council. The report card breaks down our score into 14 different categories with three A's, six B's, and five C's.
The most accountable state was New Jersey and the most corruptible was Georgia. Scandal-ridden New Jersey has, in response, enacted some of the toughest ethics laws in the country while Georgia doesn't even have an ethics commission and existing ethics laws are vague and allow for gross conflict of interest.
The report's project manager, Caitlin Ginley, told the AJC "We're not measuring actual corruption. This is a look at the opposite: the laws, policies and procedures in place to prevent corruption and how effective they are."
Here's how the CPI says other states measure up: