Tell your New Jersey cousins to suck it up -- new evidence from the Corporate Crime Reporter shows Illinois to have even more public corruption than their state does.
CCR editor Russell Mokhiber divided the number of federal corruption convictions between 1997 and 2006 (from a recent federal report) by each state's population. Louisiana "won" by a mile, with 7.67 convictions per 100,000 people, followed by Mississippi (6.66, numerologists take note) and Kentucky (5.18).
By applying the Hairy Eyeball Test of Statistical Significance, I conclude that the next five states are in a virtual tie for fourth worst: Alabama (4.76), Ohio (4.69), Illinois (4.68), Pennsylvania (4.55), and Florida (4.47). New Jersey was ninth at 4.32.
Almost by definition, corruption's hard to measure. Mokhiber acknowledged that the study is limited by the vagaries of prosecution and political will; it also only covers federal convictions. And of course, it's arguable that some states might rank highly because of an especially zealous corruption fighter, while others with more actual corruption but no interest in ferreting it out might look unreasonably good.
CCR's press release commended Chicago's Better Government Association, which will honor U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald October 25 -- but failed to note that Fitzgerald's appointment can be credited to former Illinois US senator Peter Fitzgerald, a conservative Republican. Come to think of it, that appointment probably belongs near the top of the list of Republican public policy accomplishments anywhere in the last seven years.