The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has released a report card on the level of corruption in all 50 states. New Jersey had the highest score and Georgia had the lowest score.
New Jersey may be better known for the unruly escapades of twenty-somethings on the "Jersey Shore" reality TV show and for fictional mobster Tony Soprano, but it has the least corrupt state government, with a score of 87 out of 100, or a B+, according to CPI's investigation.
That may come as a surprise to many. New Jersey has had some high-profile corruption cases in recent years. CPI's report says, though, that New Jersey's state government has responded to that corruption by passing some of the toughest ethics reforms in the country. Also, Chris Christie, the current governor, was active in prosecuting corrupt politicians in his former position as a U.S. attorney in the state. His efforts led to five successful convictions and many other legislators resigned before being charged.
Only five states scored a B-, B or B+. Thirty-seven states received scores ranging from D- to C+. Eight states, Michigan, North Dakota, South Carolina, Maine, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia, got failing grades.
Georgia's score of 49 was the lowest in the nation. While Georgia has laws against state workers taking money from those seeking government contracts or a regulatory environment favorable to their business, CPI found prolific use of exceptions to those laws, such as meals, speaking fees and sports tickets.
Illinois, which holds primary elections Tuesday, received a relatively high "C" score. This news will likely surprise many coming a week after former governor Rod Blagojevich begins a 14-year prison term for extortion and conspiracy, among other charges. Blagojevich is the fourth among the last nine Illinois governors to be sent to prison.
Each of those high profile cases, though, brought about reforms, according to CPI. Illinois now has tougher campaign finance, state procurement and state budgeting rules. CPI also credited Illinois for now being able to recall misbehaving governors.
The CPI website has an interactive map where you can find your state's score. Clicking on your state will link you to an article explaining your state's grade.