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Transparency, Corruption, and the Information Needs of Communities: The Case of Personal Financial Disclosure

34 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2016  

John Wihbey

Northeastern University

Mike Beaudet

Northeastern University - College of Arts, Media, and Design

Date Written: December 5, 2016

Abstract

This paper examines personal financial disclosure practices required for public officials across the 50 states and finds that more than 80 percent of states rate poorly when evaluated on a set of objective criteria. A “disclosure degree” score is calculated for each state; these scores are then brought together with a related set of measures to evaluate transparency more broadly for public officials in each state. Levels of public corruption in each state are also considered. For financial disclosure to be meaningful, we argue, three interconnected areas must be evaluated: First, the precision of the information required by law to be disclosed; second, the degree of openness and relevance of information toward the detection of conflicts of interest; third, the degree to which institutional monitors – prosecutors, news media, ethics commissions – can generate public knowledge.

Keywords: disclosure, ethics, corruption

Suggested Citation

Wihbey, John and Beaudet, Mike, Transparency, Corruption, and the Information Needs of Communities: The Case of Personal Financial Disclosure (December 5, 2016). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 278-2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2880890

John Wihbey (Contact Author)

Northeastern University ( email )

School of Journalism
360 Huntington Ave
Cambridge, MA Massachusetts 02115
United States

Mike Beaudet

Northeastern University - College of Arts, Media, and Design ( email )

360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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