Today the Center for Public Integrity, along with Global Integrity released it’s 2015 State Integrity Investigation report, which ranks the elevates Georgia’s “integrity” ranking to 24th in the nation, up from 50th just three years ago. The result for ethics reform advocates will be devastating!
As an ethics watchdog, I can not support this report. CPI changed its methodology since its report in 2012, so while most people will assume they have compared apples to apples, they have in fact compared apples to golf balls. The change is methodology is the main reason for Georgia’s meteoric rise from 50th in the nation, to 24th.
The Georgia legislature has done very little to improve our ethics laws in the past three years, enforcement of open meetings and records laws is non-existent, and we have experienced unprecedented scandals with our state ethics commission that included interference with ethics investigations by the Office of the Governor. Yet changes in methodology will allow our state leaders to beat their chests and celebrate a significant climb in the rankings when they have done very little in improve our laws, and the enforcement of those laws.
With their 2015 report, CPI and GI are delivering a devastating blow to ethics reform activists in Georgia because they are giving our legislators, Governor and Attorney General the cover they need to do absolutely nothing to bring about the changes we need to have credible state and local governments when it comes to high ethical standards and enforcement. Meaningful ethics reform has not happened in our state in decades, and this 2015 State Integrity Investigation will be the death knell to ethics reform for many more years to come.