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There are certain places across the country that have the unfortunate distinction of being known for their government corruption. Chicago's nickname “The Windy City” isn't just about the weather, folks.

But rumors and speculation aren't an effective measure of deciding which states are more corrupt than others.

That's why the Data Lab at FiveThirtyEight used four indicators to measure which states' politicians muddy the water, and which are clean as a whistle:

Image credit: FiveThirtyEight
FiveThirtyEight

First, the number of corruption convictions was counted, landing New York, California, and Illinois in the top three places, respectively.

But because those states have higher populations and thus more politicians, the conviction rate per capita was noted in the second column.

The top offenders per capita?

  1. Louisiana
  2. Mississippi
  3. Alaska

New York, California, and Illinois drop to numbers 11, 34, and 6 when taking population into account.

Although these numbers give us a good impression of the illegal dealings in the states, it can't capture the legal yet unethical actions committed by state politicians.

That's why Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston of the Harvard University Center for Ethics sought out 280 political journalists from across the country to gather their impressions of the political corruption in their state:

According to reporters, Kentucky ranked #1 in corruption, followed by Illinois and New Jersey.

As far as the least corrupt states, aggregate scores place these guys as the winners:

  1. Nebraska & Oregon (tied at 43.5)
  2. Vermont (41.5)
  3. Iowa (39.5)

But if honesty is an important policy for you, you might want to steer clear of Illinois and New York. It's a shame, but are we really surprised?