The Clarion-Ledger, 12/28/8

The recent indictment of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has resurrected that state’s stereotype as the ultimate place for backroom deals, bribes and corruption.

But in the past decade, Mississippi has had nearly twice the per capita rate of public officials convicted than Illinois.

Between 1998 and 2007, Mississippi saw the federal convictions of 212 public officials, causing the state to rank fourth nationally per capita in public corruption cases, trailing only North Dakota, Alaska and Louisiana.

The number of Mississippi’s corruption convictions is substantial, but only tells part of the story, said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy of Jackson, who heads the criminal division for the Southern District of Mississippi.