Gov. Bobby Jindal, who promised a gold standard for ethics reform, has delivered anything but — and as a consequence landed a spot on the list of worst governors in the country. On Wednesday, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington noted Jindal’s poor record in ethics and government transparency — especially when it comes to his own office — as primary reasons for placing him on the list of the 11 worst governors in the U.S.
CREW noted that Jindal, who was elected governor in 2007 and is running for re-election in 2011:
• Prevented the public release of government records and has fought legislation to make government more transparent
• Weakened the authority of the state ethics board
• Refused to accept federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment insurance and to fund other important programs
• Rewarded campaign donors with government jobs and contracts
• Has been fined for ethics violations
The report could be the ammunition Republican state Sen. Robert Adley and Republican state Rep. Wayne Waddell of Shreveport need in their fight to open up more of the governor’s records. “Just remember the country is looking at us,” Adley told his colleagues Wednesday, according to today’s Advocate. “Sometimes we need to show enough independence so our state will be looked at in a favorable fashion.”
Also on the list were Republican Govs. Haley Barbour of Mississippi (No. 1); Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island, Jim Gibbons of Nevada, Rick Perry of Texas; and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. And the left-leaning watchdog group didn’t discriminate, including New Mexico’s Gov. Bill Richardson and New York’s David Patterson on the list.
CREW, which says its purpose is to “promote ethics and accountability in government and public life,” reviewed the job performance of all 50 governors to determine which are the worst. “We considered whether governors had violated ethics, campaign finance and personal financial disclosure rules as well as whether they had complied with state transparency laws,” the group noted in releasing the list. “It is nearly impossible to compare governors’ adherence to the laws because state rules and laws vary so widely. Each state has its own ethical rules and standards. Requirements regarding disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures and personal finances differ significantly as do state open records laws. Some states make much more information publicly available than others.”
CREW specifically noted Jindal’s hypocrisy is rejecting federal stimulus money. While Jindal declined $98 million in federal stimulus funds intended to help the state expand unemployment insurance, rejected $9.5 million in stimulus funds to temporarily expand Medicaid to families who left welfare for a job, turned back $55.3 million to provide health care for people without insurance and refused to apply for $300 million in stimulus money to potentially fund a high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, he nonetheless accepted and dispersed one billion in stimulus money to shore up Louisiana’s budget, CREW pointed out. “The governor also publicly presented a $521,000 check he signed personally to the First Baptist Church in Anacoco, but failed to disclose its source: the much maligned federal stimulus law.”
Read the Jindal report here and the full report here.