Oklahoma ranked 11th most corrupt state in the country
OKLAHOMA CITY A new ranking for the state of Oklahoma puts politicians in quite a negative light. The Claremore Daily Progress reports Oklahoma is the 11th most corrupt state in the U.S. That's according to researchers at Indiana University and the University of Hong Kong. They studied 25,000 convictions of public officials nationwide for violations of federal anti-corruption laws. Between 1976 and 2008, Mississippi topped the list, followed by Louisiana and Tennessee. Oregon ranked the least corrupt, with Washington and Minnesota in second and third place, respectively. "I don't think anyone who has studied Oklahoma's political history and culture will be surprised by this study's findings," Andrew C. Spiropoulos, director of State Constitutional Law and Government at Oklahoma City University, told the Daily Progress. "We have suffered from a historically high level of political corruption because of several factors. We are a relatively poor state, with limited economic opportunity in the private sector, making public money and jobs more important." The study includes the early 1980s, when Oklahoma courts convicted, or took guilty pleas, in a massive county commissioner scandal. Spiropoulos suggests Oklahoma has a strong populist culture in which politicians, legitimately or not, use public power and resources to help out "the little guy." While some state analysts say things have improved in recent years, former Senate President Pro Temp Mike Morgan, Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan, state Sen. Debbe Leftwich, all Democrats, and Republican state Rep. Randy Terrill, have been convicted of bribery since 2008. "Given recent events in Oklahoma, it appears that parts of this corruption are still with us today," said R. Keith Gadde, chairman of the political science department at the University State Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said the increased use of state tax subsidies and tax breaks by Republicans creates a climate of corruption.