CRIME

New York State Leads The Nation In Political Corruption

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is the just the latest in a long list of New York pols who have been charged with corruption

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM ET

UPDATE: Former New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his 33-year-old son, Adam, were convicted on Friday on eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Authorities said the two used the elder Skelos’ powerful position in state government to extort about $300,000 from two companies in the form of no-show “consulting” jobs for his son. The two could get up to 130 years in prison when they are sentenced in early 2016.

The majority leader of the New York State Senate was arrested this week for a laundry list of corruption charges stemming from an alleged scheme to direct taxpayer money to his son’s business interests. But Republican State Senator Dean Skelos is actually part of a grand old tradition among the state’s elected officials.

New York leads the nation when it comes to corruption in the capitol. A look at published reportssurveys and Wikipedia entries shows that between 2010 and 2015, 14 New York state politicians were convicted of crimes related to corruption. That number jumps to more than 30 in 10 years if you include state politicians charged with crimes but not convicted, or those who were fined or censured by non-law enforcement agencies for unethical practices.

Pennsylvania is the silver medalist in political corruption, with eight convictions between 2010 and 2015. If you look back to 2000, Pennsylvania earns the top spot, with an additional 16 politicians convicted between 2000 and 2010 for a total of 24 in 15 years. (New York adds an additional eight between 2000 and 2010, for a total of 22 in 15 years.)

In Illinois, often called out for its seemingly endemic political corruption, a number of politicians have been convicted of crimes through the decades. But it has been relatively quiet on the corruption front in recent years: It’s had (only) four politicians convicted over the past 15 years (Govs. Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan, both of whom are currently in prison, and two state politicians).