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Political scandals touch state races

Oct. 16, 2005 at 10:43 AM

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Political scandals are making ethics a top campaign issue in nearly a dozen states.

Already, some say, the effect can be felt in the closer-than-expected race for New Jersey governor, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A poll last month found that 53 percent of New Jersey voters considered government corruption a very serious problem, compared with 23 percent in May 2001 -- before Sen. Robert Torricelli and Gov. James McGreevey, both Democrats, were chased from office by scandals.

In Alaska, two members of Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski's Cabinet have resigned this year amid conflict-of-interest charges.

In Kentucky, 11 current or former members of Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher's administration have been indicted.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich has allegedly been tied to a teachers pension fund scandal.

In New Mexico, Democratic Treasurer Robert Vigil faces federal racketeering charges.

In Ohio, Republican Gov. Robert A. Taft has pleaded no contest to violating state ethics laws.

In Tennessee, an FBI sting has led to bribery and conspiracy charges against five current or former state lawmakers.

Government ethics has also become an issue in Maryland, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Texas.

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