According to an analysis of government data, Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the Nation. The ranking is based upon data from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section’s report- which has been made public. “We added up the total convictions for each state,” said Russell Mokhiber. “We then calculated a corruption rate for each state, which we defined as the total number of public corruption convictions.”
The Daily Beast author, Adam B. Kushner said “The challenge for the home state of Louisiana is not how to prove its mettle in the corruption stakes, but how to compress, into a few homely paragraphs, a raft of evidence that would crash your browser. How much fraud can their crooks really commit?” Louisiana politicians feel the government pot is up for grabs. Prior governor Edwin Edwards once said he wanted to unseat an incumbent because, “if he didn’t there wouldn’t be anything left to steal.”
Down-ticket posts are keeping the dream alive. U.S. Rep. William Jefferson was famously busted in a 2005 influencepeddling scheme with, according to an affidavit, “$90,000…..in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen food containers. (His brother, sister and niece were indicted, too.) Another statewide office with a history of sleaze is the insurance commissioner, whose three consecutive occupants got in turn, 25 years in 1991 for influence peddling, 41 months in 1993 for selling $80,000 worth of insurance licenses, and 6 months in 2001 for lying to an FBI agent. The head of the Louisiana Film Commission took $60,000 in bribes.
In the Statehouse, where politicians voted to more than double their salary in 2008, the Senate Ethics Committee Chairman was charged with income tax evasion. The sponsor of a new ethics bill was accused of taking legal fees from companies doing business with a state university (on whose board his mother sits). A recent state senate president will be in jail until 2016 for an insurance scam; his son was later indicted for defrauding the federal government of $600,000 in a house-flipping operation.
Newsweek reported, from the official investigation, Hurricane-Katrina-related graft merits its own dissertation, but here are a few highlights: 70 percent of Katrina contracts- $7.4 billion worth- was awarded without bids. The FBI is investigating a New Orleans housing agency that spent millions in federal dollars to rehabilitate almost no homes. And government fraud cases increased 243 percent during the two years after the storm. THE POPULIST GOVERNOR EARL LONG ONCE SAID THAT HIS CONSTITUENTS “DON’T WANT GOOD GOVERNMENT, THEY WANT GOOD ENTERTAINMENT.” For a man whose last term included confinement in a mental hospital, he obviously knew his electorate well.