Do all states have as many fuck-up officials as Oregon? Every week a new report appears about some public employee lying, stealing, cheating, etc. Why aren't these people investigated beforehand? Is Oregon just pathetically poorly run? —Proud Out-of-State Transplant
As Jesus said at the Last Supper: Eat me. Seriously, Plant—if you don't like the clam dip at this party (to which I don't think you were even invited) by all means feel free to seek out sunnier climes—God knows there's plenty more where you came from.
If I seem a little testy, perhaps it's because I'm originally from Illinois, where four of our last seven governors have actually gone to prison. By this standard, Oregon's meager influence-peddling scandals barely move the needle—wake me when it's 17 counts of extortion.
But you don't need to invoke Illinois' Libya-like stewardship of the public trust to make Oregon look good. By many measures, we're one of the least corrupt states in the nation—and I've got the numbers to prove it!
Normally, I would do these calculations myself, but in this case, the wonks over at Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com have already done them, avoiding the chance I'd fall asleep on the keyboard and report that Wisconsin had 13333333333333333 cases of land fraud in 2011.
Measuring by federal corruption convictions per capita, Oregon was the least corrupt state in the union as of 2015. I won't deny we might've moved up a tick in the rankings since then. Even so, there's no way we're challenging perennial corruption powerhouses like the aforementioned Illinois (No. 6) or Mississippi (No. 2). Of course, counting convictions gets you only so far—perhaps some states' institutions are so rampant with vice that no one is even bothering to file charges.
To find out, Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics surveyed journalists across the country on their impressions of local lawlessness (my questionnaire must have gotten lost in the mail).
The result? Oregon was rated fifth-least corrupt, behind only Massachusetts, Vermont, Michigan and North Dakota. So, unless you want to take on Edmond J. Safra, can it.