A new study ranks New Jersey tops in the nation for its procedures for uncovering corruption.
It was February of 2005 when former Middletown Township Committeeman Raymond O'Grady was arrested as part of Operation Bid Rig, the FBI sting, for accepting $8,000 worth of bribes.
He was sentenced to 43 months in prison in 2006. When audio tapes generated during the Bid Rig sting were released, O'Grady was remembered for saying that he could smell a cop a mile away to an investigator and threatening another official.
Since then, O'Grady has maintained a very low profile. He has not been heard from.
In a report released Monday, the Center for Public Integrity rated all 50 states in terms of their laws for public records access, requiring reports of campaign donations, accountability of all three branches of government, state budget transparency, civil service procedures, purchasing procedures, lobbyist disclosure, audits, pension fund management, ethics bodies, insurance regulation and redistricting.
"Keep in mind we're not measuring cases of corruption, but the systems in place to prevent it, and encourage openness and transparency in government," said Gordon Witkin, CPI's managing editor.
The report is likely a surprise for many state residents, who are accustomed to a steady drumbeat of arrrests of state and local officials for misuse of office. That includes the arrests of 44 people in 2009 for corruption and money laundering.
But the New Jersey's history of ethically-challenged politicos goes back much further, at least as far as a colonial governor, as the Wall Street Journal reported after the 2009 arrests.