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Which U.S. State Is Most Corrupt?

Have you ever wondered how politically corrupt the state you live in actually is? Data Lab from ranked each state for government corruption using four measures: corruption convictions, convictions per capita, reporter ratings, and lack of stringent laws.

New York scores at number 1 for most officials convicted in federal court on corruption (2,522 convictions during 1976 to 2010). California comes in 2nd with Illinois, Florida, and Pennsylvania trailing behind. Because these states have some of the largest populations, and therefore have more politicians, Data Lab took it one step further and measured convictions per capita.

The findings per capita rank Louisiana as the number 1 most corrupt state. Mississippi is number 2. Interestingly, California moves to 34 and New York to 11.

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Data Lab only measured corruption in terms of federal crimes. Most times, corruption is committed under the radar and those participating are never caught. To obtain more accurate results, Data Lab relies on a survey conducted by Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston of Harvard University’s Center for Ethics.

Dincer and Johnston contacted 280 state political reporters and asked each questions pertaining to illegal and legal corruption in their state governments. Their findings suggest that Kentucky is the most corrupt state for both legal and illegal corruption. Mississippi moves to number 7 and California goes down to number 9.

Lastly Data Lab relied on a study which ranked each state by measuring lack of stringent laws. According to, no striking connection was found between states which have anti-corruption laws and actual corruption.

Ranking in the top 15, New York holds the record for highest corruption in each category. reports that based on Data Lab’s study, the least corrupt states are Nebraska and Oregon (tied at 43.5) Vermont and then Iowa.




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