Washington state tops anti-corruption list

Washington state may share a name with the nation’s capital, but there’s no big swamp that needs to be drained in the Pacific Northwest, according to a new independent ranking of anti-corruption laws.

The state topped the inaugural S.W.A.M.P. Index’s list of states with tough corruption laws, impressing the Coalition for Integrity with the strength of its ethics agency and measures to prevent lobbyists from plying elected officials with gifts.

Washington scored 78 points out of 100, narrowly edging out California and Rhode Island (75 points each) for the top spot. Still, Coalition for Integrity CEO Shruti Shah said, there’s always room for improvement.

“It’s a good start,” said Shah, who runs the nonpartisan advocacy group that analyzes state laws governing ethics agencies, gift-giving and campaign contribution reporting.

The S.W.A.M.P. Index, which stands for States With Anti-Corruption Measures for Public Officials, found that Washington state’s ethics boards overseeing the executive and legislative branches can open investigations, hold hearings and subpoena people if they learn about potential ethical violations. The boards also can levy fines and recommend suspensions or prosecutions.

Elected and appointed lawmakers and executives in the state are barred from accepting more than $50 worth of gifts in a year, the coalition said, and must disclose the names of corporations in which they have stakes.

Political committees also must disclose the names of their donors.

— McClatchy

Remains of 63 fetuses found in funeral home

Police removed the remains of 63 fetuses from a Detroit funeral home, and regulators closed the business amid a widening investigation of alleged improprieties at local funeral homes.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said officers found 36 fetuses in boxes and 27 others in freezers during a raid Friday at the Perry Funeral Home. Craig said he was “stunned” by the discovery, which came a week after the remains of 10 fetuses and one infant were found in a ceiling at Detroit’s defunct Cantrell Funeral Home.

Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs said the remains found Friday at the Perry Funeral Home were turned over to state investigators, who immediately declared the funeral home closed and its license suspended.

Inspectors for Michigan’s Corporations, Securities & Commercial Licensing Bureau said in a statement that they had found “heinous conditions and negligent conduct” at the Perry Funeral Home, including numerous failures to certify death certificates and obtain proper permits for burial.

— Associated Press

6 killed in Utah accident: A truck crossed a highway median in Utah and collided with a pickup truck traveling in the opposite direction, killing all six men in the pickup in an accident authorities suspect may have been caused by alcohol and prescription drugs, state troopers said Saturday. Two other people traveling in a Jeep were injured when the driver lost control of it while trying to avoid the trucks involved in the initial accident.

— Associated Press