This article first appeared at Delawareonline.com on November 18, 2015, and in the News Journal November 19, 2015.
As noted by The News Journal, a recent report by the Center for Public Integrity and Global integrity rated Delaware State Government as 48th among the states in accountability and transparency.
On the face of it, this sounds like Delaware public officials might be trying to hide something. Perhaps, however, Delaware public officials exercise a level of integrity that is beyond reproach.
Unfortunately, data from the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section does not confirm this.
Each year the Public Integrity Section publishes a report to Congress that lists the number of federal, state and local public officials convicted of a corruption-related crime by state – not just indicted, but convicted. Delaware is near the top in convictions of public officials per capita.
In 2013, Delaware ranked 10th highest among the states in convictions of public officials per capita. The leading state, far and away, was Louisiana. Second and fourth were Maryland and Virginia, the two states that straddle Washington, D.C. – the District of Corruption. Illinois, where there is a special prison wing for former governors, came in fifth.
Other than Maryland, no other state in the region came close to Delaware, not even New Jersey.
Generally, states in the Midwest and West ranked as less corrupt. And more rural areas, such as the middle of Pennsylvania, upstate New York and southern Illinois, tended to be notably less corrupt.
When data from convictions over the last 10 years are examined, Delaware ranks 12th among all the states in corruption of public officials per capita. An upsurge in convictions occurred during the second term of Gov. Minner and is now occurring during the second term of Gov. Markell.
From this limited evidence it appears that the recommendations to approve government accountability and transparency in Delaware should be taken seriously.
Dace J. Blaskovitz and Dr. John E. Stapleford are Directors at the Center for Economic and Policy Analysis for the Caesar Rodney Institute.