Oregon ranks 44th in overall integrity and a miserable 49th in integrity in political financing in a new study published by the liberal Center for Public Integrity.
Oregon’s highest rating came in the category of Electoral Oversight where it rated 11th best among all states.
The Kitzhaber scandal was seen by the study’s authors as a bellweather of the weaknesses of Oregon’s integrity laws.
“For many in the state, Kitzhaber’s resignation is a thing of the past. But the scandal that ensnared the former governor highlighted a wobbly legal framework in Oregon’s government, where good behavior is taken for granted rather than enforced.”
“[T]his year’s failing grade suggests, lines are easily blurred in Oregon government, and ethical lapses and partisan abuses of power – while often not criminal – have been smoothed over by both political maneuvering and etiquette.”
In the prior integrity survey done in 2012 Oregon achieved a C-. But this time Kitzhabers resignation and the surrounding scandals lead the Center to give Oregon an F in the category of executive accountability. The scandals also exposed weaknesses in the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, and highlighted Oregon as one of the worst performing states with regard to access to information – where it received an F and was ranked 34th.
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) is an American nonprofit investigative journalism organization whose stated mission is “to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first.” With over 50 staff members, CPI is one of the largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative centers in America. It won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.