NC Government Integrity Graded
Special Report - January 7, 2012
A new report finds that no state government has earned an A grade in government transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption, with North Carolina earning a C- grade. The July release of the “State Integrity Investigation” compiled report cards comparing the openness of state governments. It describes itself as a “data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states.” The report is a collaboration of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.
The report highlights states that pass open records laws while including exorbitant exemptions, develop budgets in small groups behind closed doors, establish ethics panels that do not meet for years, allow legislators to vote on bills that benefit themselves, or see increasing numbers of legislators quickly shifting to jobs in lobbying. Only five states earned a B, 19 states (including North Carolina) earned a C, 18 states earned a D, and eight states earned a grade of F from the project. The “dismal” grades are “across the board” attributed to “state ethics, open records and disclosure laws” lacking “teeth.” The report also found an “enforcement gap” in many states, where, even though good laws were on the books, they were not being effectively enforced.
The State Integrity Investigation measured “the risks of corruption, as reflected in the strength or weakness of laws, policies, and procedures designed to assure transparency and accountability in state government.” It looked at “public access to information, political financing, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, pension fund management, ethics enforcement, insurance commissions, and redistricting.”
North Carolina’s C- grade (71 percent) placed it 21st in the nation for corruption risk. The State earned an A on lobbying disclosure, a B on internal auditing, and a B- in state pension fund management. However, it earned a grade of F in public access to information, state budget processes, and redistricting, a D in legislative accountability, and a D+ in judicial accountability.
The report draws particular attention to a recent controversy involving former Rep. Stephen LaRoque (RLenoir), who “sponsored and voted on a bill to loosen regulations on billboard construction, even though he co-owned five billboards in the state.” In addition, the report raises concerns about a ruling earlier this year “that the Secretary of State could not impose a $30,000 fine on a lobbyist who failed to register” with “the judge [citing] ambiguous language in the law.”
ACLU Challenges Lobbyist Contribution Ban - August 25, 2008
Former Speaker Sentenced to 63 Months in Prison - July 13, 2007
Geddings, Decker Sentenced to Four Years in Prison - May 8, 2007
Speaker Black Resigns, Pleads Guilty - February 16, 2007
Lottery Executive Found Guilty of Lobbying Violations - October 26, 2006
Lottery Scandal Deepens, Second Commissioner Resigns - November 2, 2005
Groups Call for Lobbying Reform - March 16, 2005
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