Absurd: North Dakota Ranked Second Most Corrupt State In The Nation


This report from Business Insider has been making the rounds in left-wing political circles in North Dakota, and it’s even been picked up by some of the state’s media outlets.

The article, which bases its claims on the US Justice Department report below, ranks the states based on the number of public corruption convictions per 100,000 people from 2002 to 2011. North Dakota ranks second, but there are some major problems which make the way this report is being reported more than a little irresponsible.

First, North Dakota gets hit hard for having a tiny population. Just a few convictions quickly moves the state to the top of the list.

Second, if you’re wondering why you haven’t been reading headlines about dozens of public corruption cases in the headlines over the last year, it’s because the hotbeds of corruption in the state are on the Indian reservations. That’s tragic, both in terms of the plight of our Native American neighbors and the fact that those of us not on the reservation don’t seem to care much, but it’s also not the indictment of North Dakota state government some would make it out to be.

To provide some context, consider that from 2009 to 2012 crime (not necessarily public corruption but still) on Indian reservations spiked some 54%.

This is also why you see other states not typically thought of as corrupt – states like South Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma – near the top of the list. All of the states have high concentrations of Native Americans and, unfortunately, tribal governments.

It’s worth noting that in North Dakota, just in the last year, we’ve seen tribal corruption scandals on the Standing Rock reservation and at the Spirit Lake Reservation.

But here’s a challenge for those contending that this report is a serious indictment of North Dakota’s non-tribal government: Name a single non-tribal public official convicted of corruption in the last decade.

Most Corrupt States Report by Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Gern Blanston

    Is it just bad journalism or a shot to make ‘red’ states look bad?

  • whowon

    Time to ignore these reports, they can’t stand it that we a so successful. Nice try.Please don’t come here, too much corruption! Laughable/

  • ndjax

    The problem with this report is two fold. The reservations and the conviction rate. The conviction rate is the red herring. Convictions i suppose are what they are using as their base, and the reservations obviously move ND up the list, as they have convictions. However, simply using a conviction rate is a poor standard for defining corruption. Anyone paying attention knows how corrupt this state is without the need for a high conviction rate as it’s incredibly difficult to prove. Just take a look at the FM diversion in Cass, but you really have to look because there are shell corps and lawyers layered to protect those names who will benefit tremendously by the diversion at the expense of others and are using the force of government to do this. This is one small example, there are many, many others. One could make the case ND is indeed deserving of it’s position, but simply using conviction rates is not enough and as pointed out is only a red herring.

    • http://flamemeister.com flamemeister

      From my observations, I would say that “soft” corruption is very high, the sort involving local cronyism and nepotism.

      • ndjax

        Fair enough.

    • Jonesy

      Also look at all of the legislators who propose and vote on laws which benefit them (their businesses) personally. Rob has pointed out multiple times the self-serving legislators who work in higher ed and stoop for everything their presidents ask of them. There’s also a reason the laws in ND heavily favor property owners over renters when compared to other states, as Rick Berg had control of the legislature for many years.

      • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

        Saying “Rick Berg had control of the legislature for many years” demonstrates an enormity of ignorance about how our legislature worked.

        Berg was influential, no doubt. He didn’t control it any more than Al Carlson controls it today. I’ll bet both Berg, and Carlson, wish they had the control some attribute to them.

        And I have a hard time describing some of what you describe as unethical. A teacher who votes for bigger school budgets might be described as a hero by some, and self-serving to the point of corruption by others.

        You’re right, I’m very critical of legislators who vote in their own self interest. And I think situations like the one with Senator Tim Flakoll getting more than a month of vacation time from his university job so he can double-dip while serving in the legislature walks right up to the line of corruption.

        But there’s a line between things that are truly corrupt, and things we just don’t like.

        Remember, some are claiming that Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer are corrupt becaus they took legal, disclosed political contributions from members of the coal industry. But would we describe as corrupt if a politician took money from anti-coal interests?

        • Jonesy

          Splitting hairs in my opinion, but perhaps I should’ve used the words “significant influence” instead of “control.”

  • kevindf

    That must explain my property and state income taxes.

  • Harold Reimann

    now if we could just get rid of the indians

    • Clint Johnson

      Indians aren’t the problem. Reservations with separate tribal governments are the problem. If Native Americans had been integrated into society 100 years ago instead of being given welfare and the ability to make their own rules we wouldn’t be talking about this. Unfortunately the ship has sailed on that endeavor. If we could get that crook Dalrymple out of office for a real conservative it would help tremendously.

  • Snuggarunt

    Let’s fix this problem: Look the other way and the corruption conviction rate will go down!

  • Drain52

    Time to trot out again that old chestnut attributed to Mark Twain and others: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  • fredlave

    This report must be seen in the context of the most politicized Justice Department in living memory. This is a talking point memo from Dems for Dems for next year’s elections.

  • vugg

    how did Ilinois end up in the middle of the pack? half of their governors since the 70’s have went to jail. i don’t think minot’s ‘leaders’ are corrupt – just inept and addicted to spending OPM.

    • Sophia

      Illinois is high on the list because it is GOOD to hold people in power ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIER ACTIONS! A simple checks-and-balances mechanism is an inherent part of our government and founding fathers. Just because North Dakota politicians are spotless on paper does not mean they are innocent of worse crimes than Illinois Governors who are TRIED and HELD ACCOUNTABLE for breaking the law. This puts Illinois higher on the list than ND and SD, which are bought out and blatantly run by crooks.

  • SethO

    Typical conservative view. Discount/blame minorities.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Typical liberal reaction. Muddy the water by accusing someone of racism.

  • SDJammer

    It always pays to look into who the messenger is, in this case it is the Center for Public Integrity. Charles Lewis runs the Center for Public Integrity. You might find the following excerpts taken from the following links useful:

    “This was a subject that Moyers carefully avoided. On his PBS NOW program on January 9, Moyers had interviewed Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity about the big money supporting the presidential candidates. But little time and attention was paid to how Soros was trying to buy the White House and pouring millions of dollars into groups such as MoveOn.org to bring this about. Moyers, former press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson, also failed to tell his viewers that he served on the board of Soros’ Open Society Institute and that it has funneled $1.7 million into Lewis and his Center for Public Integrity.”



    “In June of 1999, Moyers hosted a PBS show ironically called “Free Speech for Sale,” and he opened with the views of three “reformers” — Burt Neuborne of the Brennan Center for Justice, Charles Lewis of the Center for Public Integrity, and Bob Hall of Democracy South. But, as Greve reported, Moyers “never revealed that their organizations have received a total of $2.6 million from the Schumann Foundation in the last five years.” ”



    “Charles Lewis is a left-winger and the Center for Public Integrity gets its funding from left-wing foundations including George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Barbra Streisand’s Streisand Foundation.”

    The report does have some useful information in it which points out some process and transparency issues that surely could use some attention. However, in my opinion their conclusions are intended to make the corrupt democrat run states not look as bad as the Republican run states. Bottom-line is that it comes from a far left biased organization.

  • ndsux

    of course, it’s very obvious from personal experiences

  • Aubrey


    Both North and South Dakota are high on the list for sex-trafficking. I travel all over the country and as a woman, I testify that there is something very wrong with walking on civil rights with their forced blood draws. Police are using forced drug tests to harass and solicit women traveling here for jobs who have no criminal background. Here is my personal story on my blog and here is a guy with a medical condition and a forced blood draw:



    Please open your eyes.