Louisiana, NJ, and Texas have what in common? Corruption, study says


The Texas House and Senate have packed up and gone home.

Gov. Greg Abbott is taking a break from governing to watch the Lufkin ‘Thundering 13′ step up to the plate in the Little League World Series.

Yes, all is quiet in Austin after a loud and boisterous regular and special legislative session.

But did the politicians leave a stain of corruption behind?

A study — researched and penned by Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston — featured by Harvard suggests that may be the case.

The Houston Chronicle on Tuesday zeroed in on the report as an apparent bon voyage to the lawmakers.

Dincer is an associate professor of economics at Illinois State University and director of its new Institute for Corruption Studies. Johnston is a professor at the Austria-based International Anti-Corruption Academy.

They began their work in 2014 as lab fellows at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Saffra Center for Ethics.

And in their study, Texas state government did not score well.

From the Chronicle:

Last year, they contacted nearly 1,000 journalists and received 265 responses with number grades – from 1 meaning corruption was “not at all common,” to 5 meaning corruption was “extremely common” – to several questions about corruption in the three branches of state government.

The duo defines legal corruption as “political gains” such as campaign contributions that elected officials receive in exchange for providing specific benefits to private individuals or groups.”

They acknowledge that surveys like theirs have weaknesses.

In addition to gauging perceptions about illegal corruption, Dincer and Johnston also are examining “legal corruption,” which they say is becoming more common nationwide.

The study found that illegal corruption is “moderately common” in both the state’s legislative and executive branches.

Also, the professors said that legal corruption is “very common” in Texas’ executive branch and moderately common in the legislative.

When the survey scores are combined, the study found that Texas is perceived to be among the most corrupt, taking the prize alongside states such as Louisiana, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Read the full study here.

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.


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