The Most Corrupt State in America?

The Story

A recent poll conducted by Monmouth University found that Americans believe New York to be the most corrupt state in the country. While the reality isn’t quite that bad, the public’s sense of things isn’t far off. From marriage and visa fraud to bribery and extortion to bald-faced graft, our state legislators have set a low bar for reputable behavior. If you need any further proof, look to the resignation this morning of Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough, who pleaded guilty to falsifying travel expenses.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Ethical Deficiency: Good-government groups tracking corruption find that “ethical or criminal issues” have forced 28 New York legislators out of office since 1999; four officials are currently under indictment, including former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. And these figures don’t include the multiple New York City councilmembers who have been sent to prison or are under indictment. Read more

  2. Phony Cure: Public financing of elections is often put forth as the solution to political corruption. But the experience of New York City, which has had public financing for campaigns since 1988, suggests otherwise. Under the city’s public-financing program, public corruption remains endemic, while voter-turnout levels have dropped to record lows and incumbents remain nearly unbeatable. Read more

  3. Nonprofits for Profit: What would make a difference is if Albany cracked down on its culture of nonprofit corruption—in which not-for-profit social-service agencies receive copious amounts of public money from politicians, whose support for these organizations frequently rewards them in the form of financial kickbacks or illegal political help. Read more

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

How to Steal an Election By John Fund (Autumn 2004)

With nearly 10 percent of Americans now believing that the election system doesn’t count their votes accurately, and with new charges of fraud beginning to swirl around the 2004 presidential election, it’s worth taking a look back at the nation’s long tradition of electoral shenanigans. It’s comic—until you start to wonder just how much of it is still going on.

On The Calendar

May 11

May 11, 2015 |

The Alexander Hamilton Award was created by the Manhattan Institute to honor those individuals helping to foster the revitalization of our nation’s cities. This year, the winners are George Kelling, co-author of the Broken Windows Theory, and Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools. Click to purchase tickets.

And in other news...

Prosecutors are investigating whether United Airlines created a commercial flight to win favor from David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.