Iowa’s Judicial Branch flunked a recent transparency and accountability study because of barriers to public access to information, a lack of legal requirements for judicial evaluations and issues surrounding potential conflicts of interest. They include limited access judicial officers’ asset disclosures and a lack of restrictions on judges returning to the private sector after the bench.
Read the Story: Iowa Flunks Integrity Test When Keeping Tabs On Special Interests
Iowa’s practices to ensure transparency in lobbying earned an F in a recently released State Integrity Investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization. The survey examined various measures of transparency and accountability in state government. IowaWatch was involved in conducting the survey of Iowa government agencies. Read more.
The 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a data-driven assessment of state government, found that in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists. Meanwhile, feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.
The State Integrity Investigation is an in-depth collaboration designed to assess transparency, accountability, ethics and oversight in state government, spotlight the states that are doing things right and expose practices that undermine trust in state capitals.
The State Integrity Investigation, a national investigation last year by news organizations that included IowaWatch and The Gazette of Cedar Rapids into how open government is in all 50 states, was one of five finalists for this year’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. The Chicago Tribune won the $25,000 prize, which was awarded this week (March 5) by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The State Integrity Investigation, devised and led by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International, created a tool for measuring how effective open records and open government laws are in curbing corruption and promoting accountability and openness in each U.S. state. The results included accelerated reform in government and an increase in disclosure requirements in many states. Reporters from IowaWatch and The Gazette conducted the Iowa portion of the study.