Far-Off State Capitals Are More Corrupt

A new paper shows that state capitals located in less-populated areas are more likely to breed corruption. The paper, authored by Filipe R. Campante of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Quoc-Anh Doh of Singapore Management University, tested what seems to be a logical idea: when lawmakers are more out of sight, they can get into more trouble. Turns out that in this case, the logical idea is the right one.

The authors found "a very robust connection" between corruption and capital location. They used several different measures of corruption and isolation and continued to get the same result. Isolated capital cities tend to pay high salaries to their governors and have smaller media outlets covering political happenings. The connection even has implications for the amount of money in campaigns:

We look at how the amount of campaign contributions to state politics correlates to the concentration of population around the capital. As it turns out, we find a negative correlation between concentration and contributions: a state like Nevada, with its isolated Carson City, witnesses a larger amount of contributions (controlling for the size of its economy) than does broadly comparable Utah and its population largely concentrated around Salt Lake City. This...would be consistent with a scenario in which low levels of accountability due to lower media scrutiny and citizen participation open the door to a more prominent role for money in politics.

Overall it looks pretty bad for the Trentons and Springfields of the world. The paper proudly notes that "This sheds new light on the mechanisms of corruption and accountability, and adds a novel dimension towards understanding how institutional choices over the structure of the political system affect the incentives of the actors that operate in them."  That may be true, but the paper is not exactly full of policy recommendations. As NPR's Frank James notes, this isn't information we can act on:

It's not like state capitals are going to be moved to be closer to population centers at this point. And even if that could happen, does anyone really believe that Illinois' corruption problems would be ameliorated if Springfield, the state capital, were moved closer to Chicago with its virtually unrivaled reputation for political chicanery?

He's got a point. Efforts like the State Integrity Project, which emphasizes policies to decrease corruption and increase transparency, probably won't add "move the state capital" to their list of proposals. And I've got to say, as someone who covered the Texas Legislature for two cycles: even in the thriving metropolis of Austin, quite a few legislators found ways to get in trouble. [h/t LA Times]

Comments

In these days where pop-culture reigns supreme sadly “news” coverage is ruled by content such as the most recent Kardashian gossip or the latest celebrity legal troubles. Those of us who vigilantly pay attention realize that more focus needs to be placed on the powers that be by newspapers and other news outlets. Those who aren’t vigilant …well let’s just say they realize it too. But there’s a difference…by the time the latter realizes it it is often too late. I hope that the troubling “reporter reduction” that Mr. Lauter cites in the "Los Angeles Times" source article is a trend that reverses soon and I also hope that there is an uptick in investigative reporting. All the recent corruption related scandals that have come to light after years of abuses have been perpetrated clearly indicate that there are not enough spotlights shining in the places where they are most needed. This story stimulates badly needed dialogue, I hope that it gets widespread circulation and that the public, virtuous public servants, newspaper editors, etc. take heed. I know budgets are tight, but if there was ever a time when diligent reporters were needed it’s now. Having stated all of that, I’m sharing something here that warrants a bright spotlight. It hasn’t been covered by the media yet and I’m certain that by the time it is covered some of the fallout that could have been averted will have already occurred. However, I’ve nonetheless got to do my part; all this public corruption sickens me and the public and law-abiding public servants should be aware of the issue. In addition to the corruption that is touched upon it also seems as though yet another Florida election fiasco is on the horizon.

See the below message (information was updated on 05/07/2012). The comment was previously posted elsewhere but obviously it’s fitting that I share it here.

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Boy did Governor Rick Scott nail it when he, according to the AP article, said “people lie”. I’m glad to see the state cleaning up the voter rolls. However, a bit of research reveals that the consensus amongst many is that instances of voter fraud seem to be relatively few and far between. Conversely, what can’t be denied is that in the current climate gamesmanship and outright cheating run rife amongst those with the most to gain/lose. That being stated, election fraud is a very real threat. That being the case, the charge that I’d really like to see Governor Scott, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and all the rest of Governor Scott’s immediate cohorts lead is the charge to excise corrupt actors from the election process. Right now in Alachua County there is a proven criminally-corrupt judge—a judge by the name of David P. Kreider—that has been illegally entangled in Florida’s 2012 election process. The state is aware of this undeniable fact yet it has continued to improperly display a multi-dimensional lack of concern. The below message provides some insight into this issue.

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Next stop Gainesville, Fla. (i.e. "Gator Country"). “Why specifically?”, you ask.

Because in Alachua County, within recent months, numerous and egregious violations of law have been committed that warrant multiple criminal prosecutions and other severe government sanctions. These crimes have had all types of deleterious effects including, but not limited to, once again placing the integrity of Florida’s election results (for 2012) in jeopardy. A few of the things that are central to this issue are:

1
David P. Kreider [Mr. Kreider, a proven criminal, is a corrupt Alachua County Court judge. This criminally-corrupt judge also happens to be both (a) one of the circuit's former prosecutors and (b) a former Division Chief for the State Attorney's Office.]

2
Robert Roundtree, Chief Judge for Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit (he recently replaced the embattled Martha Lott who resigned from her chief judge post subsequent to becoming embroiled in this scandal which has started to implode; her resignation was announced on 04/09/2012 and was reported to have gone into effect on 04/05/2012)

3
Spencer Mann, Chief Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office of Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit

4
William "Bill" Cervone, State Attorney for Florida's 8th Judicial Circuit

5
The conspiracy / scandal related to the "Gibson Case"

6
The two irrefutable reports and extensive corroborating evidence that is in the possession of agencies, including those within Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit (and the aforementioned Spencer Mann and Chief Judge’s office). The comprehensive reports and evidence span a total of more than 100 pages and in-depthly detail criminal activities carried out under the color of law by criminal/judge David P. Kreider and various other co-conspirators.

http://www.complaints.com/2012/march/14/Corrupt_Judge_David_P._Kreider_now_taints_the_ele_264712.htm
[Updated most recently on 05/07/2012. This is the initial url and the complaint at this url will remain online to serve as a referral to the below mandated url.]

http://www.complaints.com/2012/may/21/Corrupt_Judge_David_P._Kreider_now_taints_the_ele_266368.htm
[This is where all of the updates following 05/07/2012 will be in the future. As of today (05/26/2012) no post-05/07/2012 information is posted here. See the note at the bottom of this comment.]

This is the gateway to serious corruption and a major cover-up attempt.

Note:

Inexplicably, at this critical time, the ability to update the completely truthful complaint that is displayed at the above listed initial complaints.com url has been blocked (this problem just arose in mid-May 2012). Complaints.com was notified in hopes that the issue would be remedied promptly (especially before the involved co-conspirators made any additional damaging/wrongful maneuvers or inappropriately benefited from the dissemination of any additional misinformation outside of scrutiny). For the most part, as of now (05/26/2012), to the best of my knowledge the report at the initial url is up-to-date and the involved co-conspirators haven't executed any additional illicit maneuvers that haven't already at least been touched upon in that initial complaints.com webpage complaint. On 05/19/2012 complaints.com indicated that it would no longer be possible to update the information at the well-publicized initial webpage/url and essentially that the complaint would have to be duplicated and that all future updates would have to be made at a new complaints.com webpage/url.

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