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Home > Publications > Quill > Winner: The Center for Public Integrity


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Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Winner: The Center for Public Integrity

“States of Disclosure: Tracking the Private Interests of Public Officials”

Jim Poyser

In six years of reporting on the legislative branch of state governments, the Center for Public Integrity showed how state legislatures put private interests ahead of the public good. With “States of Disclosure: Tracking the Private Interests of Public Officials,” CPI turned its attention to the under-scrutinized executive and judicial branches of state government.

Twenty-one states failed to make basic information about the private financial interests of their governors available to the public, according to a six-month survey of state disclosure laws by the Center for Public Integrity. Four of those — Idaho, Michigan, Utah and Vermont — did not require governors to file financial disclosure reports at all.

“States of Disclosure” had national impact, providing the first nationwide ranking of governors’ and judges’ financial disclosure information and making their actual filings easily accessible for the public to hold state officials accountable. The project was cited by more than 100 newspapers, wire services, radio stations and online media outlets in 32 states and was featured in nine state newspaper editorials calling for greater financial disclosure in state government.

Judges in the states’ highest courts are required in all but three states to disclose some of their outside financial interests, a three-month study by the Center for Public Integrity has found. But these filings are rarely reviewed by the public, who may not even know they exist.

Judges said, “One of the most important services any organization can provide is making as transparent as possible the deeds of our public officials. The Center for Public Integrity has done just that, with a massive database of financial disclosure reports of state government officials.

“The work is impressive not only for its breadth, but its depth. It raises question after question about the powerful donors giving money to our state officials and does a fantastic job at ranking how well states adhere to their disclosure laws. It is a deep and rich work that may be intimidating due to its size, but one that’s must-reading.”

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