Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is suspended for instructing judges to ignore federal law.
Embattled Gov. Robert Bentley faces impeachment proceedings for allegedly making “inappropriate” advances and possibly having an extramarital affair with a former staffer and adviser.
And House Speaker Mike Hubbard is currently on trial for allegedly using his post to enrich himself and his political allies as he ascended to the highest echelons of power in state office and the governing Republican Party.
You couldn’t blame observers of current affairs in Alabama for thinking politics in the Yellowhammer State is fundamentally corrupt, as leaders of all three branches of state government face charges over official misconduct.
But a report released by Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics seems to confirm that hypothesis, naming Alabama one of the most unethical states in the nation when it comes to both legal and illegal forms of corruption.
The center’s 2014 corruption study lists Alabama as one of the seven most crooked states in the union when it comes to an index of criteria including lax ethics laws, high levels of influence from campaign cash, and unscrupulous state laws governing the judicial branch, which researchers said was unduly affected by political considerations.
The survey considered special interest spending per voter during elections — unusually high in Alabama — and laws designed to maintain separation of powers, as well as the occurrence of explicitly illegal corruption, where Alabama was also perceived to be considerably worse than average.
“With respect to illegal corruption, Arizona is perceived to be the most corrupt state, followed by a second group of states, which includes California and Kentucky, and a third group that includes Alabama, Illinois, and New Jersey,” wrote Oguzhan Dincer and Michael Johnston, researchers affiliated with Harvard.
“It is all bad news for Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as their aggregate scores are in the highest quartiles of both illegal and legal corruption,” Dincer and Johnston wrote.