Some readers of Make No Law may have seen a recent study released by the Center for Public Integrity concluding that New Jersey is the state with the lowest risk of corruption in the country. Writing in The Wall Street Journal today, IJ Attorney Paul Sherman and University of Rochester Professor David Primo take a skeptical look at that study and uncover many problems:
For starters, the study never actually defines what it means by corruption. Instead, the risk of corruption is defined by the presence or absence of certain laws—such as strict campaign-finance limits and lobbying disclosure—that good-government groups promote. But without a working definition of corruption, it is impossible to determine whether these sorts of reforms are the appropriate remedy.
Is regulation of state insurance commissions, for example, as important as lobbying disclosure as a means to combat corruption? Who knows? The study gives equal weight to both. Yet that's like assuming aspirin is as good as a herbal supplement because some people think both can cure headaches.
Wall Street Journal subscribers can read the whole thing here.