Iowa’s Bid For Open Government Is Never-Ending

The grade might stun you — Iowa receiving a D-plus for government transparency from the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity Monday morning, Nov. 9, in a government transparency study of all 50 U.S. states. These same organizations gave Iowa a C-plus the last time they studied government transparency for a March 2012 report. How could Iowa do worse this time? Iowa has made some moves, notably forming a Public Information Board later in 2012 to better resolve complaints Iowans have about government openness.

Iowa Draws A Lowly D+ In New Government Transparency Report

The fact that state authorities sought to obstruct disclosure of a police shooting in Burlington explains, in part, why Iowa received an overall grade of D+ in a 2015 State Integrity Investigation conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity.

Only three states score higher than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 flunk

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.

About The State Integrity Investigation

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.

Political spending by outside groups goes unmonitored

When it comes to telling voters who is spending money on political ads, Iowa fails. It got an “F” in a recent study on state disclosure policies for political spending by independent groups, or groups not connected to political candidates. Iowa was among 25 other states that received failing grades. This kind of anonymous spending threatens the transparency of elections, said Arthur Sanders, a political science professor at Drake University. If a group spends $10,000 on ads, voters have no way of knowing where the $10,000 came from.