Having lived in Louisiana for many years, I figured I knew quite a bit about entrenched corruption in the organs of state. I found it particularly telling that when newly-elected Governor Jindal pushed through a new, much stronger ethics law - against vituperative opposition from entrenched interests - not only did over a hundred elected and appointed office-holders resign, so did virtually everyone on the State Ethics Board! There was a lot of cynical voter amusement in Louisiana that day . . . and a whole lot of bipartisan praise for Governor Jindal's house-cleaning efforts.
Nevertheless, this report out of Florida opened my eyes to the fact that Louisiana's corruption problems are minor by comparison.
To see how bad political corruption in this state is, look no further than the Tallahassee Democrat.
Not the news pages — though there's plenty of evidence there, too. No, I'm talking about a front-page ad that the FBI took out not long ago.
"Dishonest government officials aren't just wasting your tax dollars," the ad said. "They're betraying your trust. Report public corruption to the FBI."
That's right. Crooked officials are so rampant in Florida, we actually have the feds taking out front-page ads … in the state capital, appropriately enough.
This shouldn't be a surprise. Last year, a grand jury studied Florida's heinous record and found that more than 800 public officials had been convicted during a 10-year period — the highest total in America.
We're talking about everything from bid-rigging to cash payouts.
And that says nothing about all the improprieties we read about that never get prosecuted.
The statewide grand jury had demanded action. It called for major reforms, tougher penalties, greater disclosure and stronger teeth in the state's anti-corruption efforts.
Yet can you guess what legislators did to address this issue last month?
There's more at the link.
Oooohhh-kay, Florida voters . . . at next year's elections, how about voting for a candidate who promises to clean house? If there isn't one, how about finding one to stand - or doing so yourself?