How Corrupt Is Your State? | Nixon Secrets | Appalachian Outrage | G.O.P. Gerrymandering

Clean Them Up—The first state-by-state ranking of corruption in local and state governments rates Mississippi as the worst and Nebraska as the best.

The Corporate Crime Reporter, a vigorous investigative newsletter, dug into each state’s number of public corruption convictions from 1993 to 2002. In addition to Mississippi, the nine other states on the “10 Worst List” are: North Dakota, Louisiana, Alaska, Illinois, Montana, South Dakota, Kentucky, Florida and New York.

Rated as the 10 least corrupt states are, besides Nebraska: Oregon, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, Arizona, Arkansas and Wisconsin.

According to Russell Mokhiber, the newsletter’s editor and the author of the corruption report, “We need not just strong economies, but strong political economies—reporters, citizen groups, prosecutors, judges, religious leaders—who are willing to speak out about the rampant corruption in our midst.”

The public corruption report can be seen on the Internet at www.corporatecrimereporter.com. Mokhiber can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

A Nixon Sneak Attack—In 1974, at the height—or depth—of the controversy over President Richard Nixon’s White House files, including the cover-up surrounding the damning Nixon audiotapes, Congress passed a law stating that the seized records were not to be removed from the National Archives. That blocked the Nixon family from moving them to its foundation-funded Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA.

We now learn that someone in the Nixon family hired Washington lobbyists to get some members of Congress to tuck a few lines of special language pertaining to the Nixon records into recent legislation. They come at the end of the thousand-page Omnibus appropriation bill, which has finally cleared Congress, four months late. So, along with the millions of dollars in “pork” appropriations for members’ home state interests, there is now official authority for the long-prohibited transfer of Nixon’s files. Public access to all of them is required when the 46 million pages and hours of audiotapes reach the Nixon Library, probably not before 2005.

According to Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper that broke this story, the Nixon heir who hired the lobbyists and engineered the transfer was Julie Nixon Eisenhower, a Nixon daughter married to David Eisenhower, a grandson of the former President.

Covered Up—One of the environmental atrocities getting little media attention in this election year is the problem of stream stoppages in Appalachian valleys. The streams have been plugged by tons of earth dumped down-hill by strip mine operators in West Virginia.

In an underreported abomination, the Bush administration is about to help out its friends in the coal industry, which has been a major contributor to the G.O.P. These are the people who have engaged in “mountaintop removal,” clogging waterways with earth and destroying thousands of miles of Appalachian valley streams.

Strip-mining the rest of the media’s neglect, the New York Times reported on January 26 that a rule change is expected soon from the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining. It would authorize the coal industry’s practice of dumping earth into waterways,”if companies show they are minimizing mining waste and the environmental damage caused by it.” Show who? Bush’s environmental regulators, that’s who.

Fairytalemandering—In the most partisan political trickery in years, the gerrymandering of congressional districts in Texas by Republicans, which we described in our November 1, 2003, issue, has been okayed by a federal appeals court. But the U.S. Supreme Court still has a chance to review it—if it can bear to look. It won’t do that before this year’s elections.

As it stands in Texas, incumbent Democratic state delegates are going to have to face Republican incumbents whose districts have been mangled to give them access to fewer Democrats and more G.O.P. voters. The 16-16 Democratic-Republican composition of the Texas House delegation may now end up being 22-10, in favor of favoring Republicans.

On other fronts, the Supreme Court is expected to rule fairly soon on a less baroque redistricting scandal, in Pennsylvania, and the state Supreme Court in Colorado has thrown out a Republican gerrymander there.