Idaho, popularly known as the Gem State, has the highest rate of corruption convictions per person in the US, according to a recent report by the Institute for Corruption Studies at Illinois State University. Idaho is ranked second on the list, followed by Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and other places. The analysis encompassed the years 1976 to 2023.
The director of the Institute for Corruption Studies and an economist, Oguzhan Dincer, wrote the paper and cites a number of causes for Idaho’s high levels of corruption:
- Sparse Demographics: Idaho has a low population density and is racially homogeneous, leading to less diversity and competition in politics. This lack of diversity results in less oversight and accountability for public servants.
- Culture of Mistrust: The state s culture is marked by a strong libertarian and anti-government sentiment. This encourages mistrust and dislike of both federal and state authorities, as well as acceptance of local corruption if it serves the interests of individuals or communities.
- Low Voter Turnout: Idaho consistently has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the U.S. This reflects low civic knowledge and involvement among the population. A lack of active participation in elections increases the influence of special interests and money in politics, reducing the likelihood of electing trustworthy and capable leaders.
Instances of Corruption in Idaho include:
- Governor Brad Little: In 2023, Governor Little faced impeachment and removal from office due to allegations of power abuse and violations of the state constitution. He was accused of issuing executive orders without legislative or judicial approval, such as extending the state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic, banning mask regulations, and restricting abortion rights.
- Senator Mike Crapo: The senior senator from Idaho in 2023 faced federal tax evasion charges. It was alleged that he hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts, failed to disclose his earnings and holdings, and used political connections to shield family members and associates from IRS and DOJ investigations. Crapo was also accused of securing favorable contracts and transactions for them.
- Boise Police Officers: Six former Boise police officers received jail sentences in 2023 as a result of an extensive FBI corruption investigation. They were found guilty of tampering with evidence, fabricating reports, coercing informants and suspects for narcotics and cash, and planning to intimidate witnesses to conceal their misdeeds.
In summary, Idaho is in danger of falling victim to the deep and widespread corruption that is engulfing the state, endangering the foundations of democracy, public confidence, and the integrity of the legal system. The insightful conclusions of the Institute for Corruption Studies strongly support a united cry for increased civic involvement and an improvement in civic education among the populace. In addition, the resounding cry calls for a paradigm change, requiring increased responsibility, uncompromising openness, and a revolutionary reconstruction of the state’s political and legal machinery.