Watchdog Gives Kentucky Government High Score for Anti-Corruption Laws

Dec 3, 2018

Credit J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

A non-partisan corruption watchdog says Kentucky’s ethics laws are the fourth-strongest in the nation. 

Kentucky’s ethics laws have guided members of the General Assembly since 1993, and no lawmaker has been convicted of misusing his or her office since then, according to Legislative Ethics Commission Executive Director John Schaaf.

The Coalition for Integrity studied every state and the District of Columbia to determine the scope, independence, and power of their ethics agencies.  The watchdog also looked at laws relating to the acceptance and disclosure of gifts by elected leaders. 

Kentucky received a score of 74 on a scale of zero to 100, placing the commonwealth fourth behind Washington State, Rhode Island, and California.  Kentucky’s high score was given, in part, to the state having ethics commissions in both the legislative and executive branches with subpoena and sanction power.  The state was also credited for having ethics commissions whose members are shielded from removal without cause. 

"The findings confirm that Kentucky’s strong and comprehensive ethics laws help the General Assembly avoid the scandals that other states have experienced – scandals which have led to convictions, fines, and imprisonment for hundreds of state legislators across the U.S.," Schaaf said in a statement.

Neighboring Tennessee received a score of 50 on the index while Indiana received a 28.