Illinois Is in Good Company: Check Out the 10 Most Corrupt States in the US

Did you know that when you type in the phrase, "Why is Illinois," into a Google search, the search engine will auto-populate suggested phrases to complete your search term based on the phrases popularity? This is what comes up, note the #1 search term:

I don't need a Google search to tell me that Illinois has become synonymous with political corruption. Just look at our track record of governors: four out of the last seven have been to prison (or are still in prison). And that's just our governors; we don't want to get into U.S. representatives, state representatives, aldermen or even small-town comptrollers.

Illinois figures prominently in this study on political corruption in the U.S. from Indiana University and the University of Hong Kong. Using data from more than 25,000 convictions of elected officials for violations of federal corruption laws between the years of 1976 to 2008, combined with an analysis of state spending, the researchers came up with a corruption scale that ranks states for corruption. Illinois made the Top 10. Here's the list and a map of the results:

Top 10 most corrupt states in the U.S.

1. Mississippi

2. Louisiana

3. Tennessee

4. Illinois

5. Pennsylvania

6. Alabama

7. Alaska

8. South Dakota

9. Kentucky

10. Florida

Map via

How do the most corrupt states spend their money?

States with higher levels of corruption are likely to spend more money on:
  • Construction -- Specifically on large, complicated projects that make it hard for the public to follow.
  • Salaries -- More public servants that are well-paid
  • Corrections and police protection
And most importantly:
most corrupt states (except South Dakota) spend more money than the least corrupt states.

However, these same states tend to spend less money on:

  • Education
  • Healthcare and Hospitals
  • Welfare
What is the explanation behind this pattern of spending? Indiana University's John Mikesell, the co-author of the study, said this is because human services programs hinder the collection of bribes.    

How much is this costing us, the Illinois taxpayers?

About $1,308 per year. But that's not all, according to former federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Illinois,
, there's a hidden cost to corruption and our pay-to-play culture and that is killing Illinois' jobs and business climate. We shouldn't be too surprised that the business developers, who want to play fair, aren't exactly jumping at the opportunity to experience the "Chi-town Shakedown."

How can we stop this crippling cycle of corruption?

Here are a few ways that are a good place to start: