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Corruption in America and Arkansas

Updated: Apr 13

Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics recently highlighted a comprehensive report on corruption at the state and local level in America. From the report:

Although corruption is not endemic in America as it is in several other countries, it does exist. According to the Justice Department, in the last two decades more than 20,000 public officials and private individuals were convicted for crimes related to corruption and more than 5,000 are awaiting trial, the overwhelming majority of cases having originated in state and local governments. Understanding the causes and the consequences of corruption and designing the policies in the fight against it starts with measuring corruption itself. How do we measure corruption, an activity that requires secrecy? The most commonly used measure of corruption in American states comes from the Justice Department’s “Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section.” These data cover a broad range of crimes from election fraud to wire fraud.

Arkansas comes out in the middle of most of the report’s rankings. In most categories of the report, Arkansas is usually included in the slightly or moderately common ranking areas for corruption. Fairly recent examples of corruption that come to mind which probably didn’t help the Natural state’s ranking are former Democratic State Rep. Hudson Hallum’s voter fraud troubles and former Democratic state Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s creative (and illegal) use of pie boxes to receive bribes. The report is by Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston.

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