Many states have suffered from public officials being involved in
ethics scandals. While sometimes there is talk of reform and other
overtures, comprehensive reform is most often elusive. However, some
states have managed, either in response to one particularly egregious
event or a history of problems being overturned in a wave of
dissatisfaction, to truly make a fundamental change. This year
Connecticut once again moved forward with a multi-year ethics reform
initiative, and Louisiana enacted one of the most far-reaching ethics
overhauls any state has in generations.
Illinois stands out as a state famous for corrupt politics. For
generations, patronage and pay-to-play politics have been raised to an
art form by state and local politicians. The state's last governor is in jail for racketeering. The current governor
is under federal investigation for allegedly giving jobs and no-bid
contracts to campaign supporters, more than 200 of whom have given the
governor checks for exactly $25,000. Advocates of good government such
as the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform have fought for years to bring the states' corrupt government officials to heel.
At the core of many voters' frustrations with government is the sense
that, too often, politics is for sale. High-priced lobbyists offering
"gifts" to lawmakers swarm state legislatures; companies looking for
public contracts get too cozy with those handing out public money; and
corporate campaign contributions grease the wheels as public policy is
auctioned to the highest corporate bidder.