NY Times ranks Virginia 11th most corrupt

After the Senate-seat-selling scandal of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) revived popular claims that the Land of Lincoln is the most corrupt state in the union, on Friday the New York Times took it upon itself to rank the 50 states from most to least corrupt based on the number of public officials convicted of crimes since 1998. Virginia comes in at #11 with 332 guilty officials, right behind the infamously corrupt Louisiana, who just last week saw Rep. William Jefferson (D-New Orleans) voted out of office following an FBI raid on his home that found $90,000 in alleged bribe money in his freezer. The most corrupt state is Florida with 824 criminal officials, the least corrupt is Nebraska with 12.


Virginia is only 11th in total number of crimes being a populous state this makes for a bad comparison. The NYT also did it per capita (which we ranked 19th) and per reporters who cover politics ranking (which rank us 34th). Numbers with out explanation rarely draw a complete picture.

But it does make for nice headlines

Dear diagoliv,

For the sake of brevity, I left out the per capita rankings, but when you consider Virginia is still in the top 20 on that list, the picture is not much rosier.

Thanks for reading.

Lindsay Barnes

A New York City newspaper calling Virginia corrupt? THAT's funny.

Actually, it would be # of convictions, guilty pleas, and plea bargain resolutions for the state divided by the number of elected/appointed officials. For example, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania--where towns and boroughs (versus counties) are independent political bodies--have more officials than Virginia. A county in Pennsylvania might have 12 commissioners, 60 mayors and a total of 300 or so council persons, plus appointees. Lots more chance for corruption.

The problem here is the headline writing; using the term "most corrupt" is like saying "Susie Jones is the 11th ugliest girl in class because she has small eyes." "Most corrupt" is itself subjective masking as an objective idea. Maybe the headline should be "Poll Lists Virginia 11th in Pol Convictions."

Lindsay, not to get all Lou Grant on you...but I will. If you left stuff out for brevity, and we assume a wire report left stuff out for brevity, and we assume the editor left out stuff for brevity, and we are dealing with a NYT reporter, how accurate do you think this story is?

Also, I would remove the "took it upon itself" clause, as it is loaded and hints of subjectivity. For the sake of brevity, you could have just said "The New York Times ranked the 50 states" and knocked out a few words. Also, you could drop the "on Friday," as precise time reference is not critical for this story, as it is self-explanatory by your lead-in that the ranking was done after the Blago thing occurred.

Happy writing!

If we're 19th, per capita, out of 50 states, that presumably puts us within a standard deviation of the mean. Doesn't that makes us...average?