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Measuring Public Corruption in the American States: A Survey of State House Reporters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2021

Richard T. Boylan
University of Alabama
Cheryl X. Long
Colgate University


We use a survey of State House reporters to measure corruption in state government and assess the priority federal prosecutors place on corruption investigations. The reliability and validity of the corruption measures are assessed, as are the relationships among corruption level, federal prosecutorial effort, and the number of federal prosecutions. Federal corruption prosecutions are positively correlated with both corruption and prosecutorial effort. Hence, we argue that federal prosecution data provide a potentially biased and unreliable measure of state public corruption.

Research Article
Copyright © 2008 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

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