New Jersey’s place at the top of the heap isn’t the only curious conclusion reached in the study. Virginia—which in 2008 was deemed one of the best-governed states in the nation by the Pew Center on the States—earned an F grade, placing it with seven other states, including North and South Dakota, that allegedly have the greatest risk of political corruption.
These sorts of findings admit of only two explanations: Either New Jersey has gotten a bum rap in the past or something is very wrong with the State Integrity Investigation.
For starters, the study never actually defines what it means by corruption. Instead, the risk of corruption is defined by the presence or absence of certain laws—such as strict campaign-finance limits and lobbying disclosure—that good-government groups promote. But without a working definition of corruption, it is impossible to determine whether these sorts of reforms are the appropriate remedy.