in Houston, Texas
Texas named 13th most corrupt state in Daily Beast study; nonprofit news sites like Texas Watchdog hope to stem corruption
Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 11:00AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

Led by a public propensity for racketeering and extortion, forgery and counterfeiting, Texas is the 13th most corrupt state in the union, according to a study today on The Daily Beast. It cited recent investigations into extortion through a development scheme tied to the Dallas City Hall as one example.

Tennessee is our nation's most corrupt state, followed by Virginia, Mississippi, Delaware and North Carolina, according to the study. Our neighbor to the north, Oklahoma, came in at number 10.

The Daily Beast created databases from the Department of Justice and FBI and weighted equally five categories, including public corruption, racketeering and extortion, forgery and counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement. Texas ranked in the top 15 in the racketeering and forgery categories and 27th in overall public corruption.

The study is a companion to a column by Richard J. Tofel warning that diminishing coverage of statehouses by the traditional press is an invitation to corrosive corruption across the country. Tofel, general manager of the investigative, Pulitzer Prize-winning website ProPublica, says hope for holding state governments accountable may lie in nonprofit websites. Over the past few years, groups like ProPublica, the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, Texas Watchdog and others have put experienced journalists to work reporting on corruption at the national, state and local levels, building on the work of earlier nonprofit news business models such as the Center for Public Integrity and the Poynter Institute.

Editor's note: Texas Watchdog conducts training for the Franklin Center.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

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