West Virginia Scores Low, But Improving, According to Center for Public Integrity

March 20, 2012

Sometimes a D+ means that you are average.

West Virginia scored a D+ on the Center for Public Integrity’s system of evaluating the potential for corruption, but received a ranking of 27.
The center examined West Virginia’s, ahem, colorful past and cited numerous examples of government malfeasance. State efforts at reform were also noted and praised. An accompanying explanation explained that state officials and lawmakers usually followed up egregious examples of corruption with effective reform.

Examiners looked at several areas of state government. West Virginia scored Fs in redistricting (seen by almost all as a fiasco), lobbying disclosure, state civil service management, and public access to information. Internal auditing and procurement earned the mark of A. Other areas of accountability and management received below average grades.

The story on the Center for Public Integrity’s web page states:
Old-timers chuckle fondly at the memory of a liquor lobbyist carting cases of free booze into the legislature’s conference room. Or at the campaign finance report that duly noted payments of $100 for driving voters to the polls, including one to a 14-year-old, who was too young even to have a driver’s license.

As a result, the state has an Ethics Act that bans nepotism in hiring; excessive gifts, excessive hospitality or soliciting gifts; and voting on issues that would line one’s own pocket. There is also an Ethics Commission to weigh complaints and a Commission on Special Investigations to ferret out procurement fraud.

These oversight mechanisms appear to be working, to an extent. West Virginia ranks 27th with a grade of D+ and a numerical score of 68 from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International. It should be noted that no state received an A.

The criteria were fairly stringent. New Jersey received the best score, B+. The full story can be seen at http://www.stateintegrity.org/westvirginia_story_subpage



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