NEW YORK ( MainStreet) — Don't think public corruption is the sole province of down at the heels nations such as Somalia, the poorest performer in Transparency International's index of perceived corruption in 176 countries.

The United States manages only the #19 spot on that index - meaning 18 countries are less corrupt and they include Japan, Barbados, Iceland and Singapore. There is corruption in America, and the question is where.

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For the answer, there's a recent report "The Impact of Public Officials' Corruption on the Size and Allocation of U.S. State Spending," compiled by an academic at the University of Hong Kong and another at Indiana University.

What they set out to do - by combing arrest and conviction records for public officials -- is to rank the U.S. states by level of corruption.

"People think corruption doesn't happen here. That's the real value of this report," said Sergio Acosta, a lawyer with Hinshaw & Culbertson in Chicago, a onetime lawyer in the U.S. Attorney's office for the Northern District of Illinois, and currently a member of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Ethics Reforms Task Force, which aims to codify appropriate behavior for city employees. Added Acosta: "Corruption is bad; it causes loss of confidence in government."

The authors of the study, Cheol Liu and John L. Mikesell, also explored two hypotheses: the first that in states with higher public spending levels, there is more corruption, and the second that states with plenty of spending on areas ripe for bribery - such as construction, police and highway projects - have more corruption.

The authors, believe their data prove both points. Our concern is simpler: where do you need to grease palms to get anything done?

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A fact: New Jersey - a state well know for corruption at the highest levels (the late 1970s Abscam scandal, for instance, sent a sitting U.S. Senator to jail, along with a member of the House, members of the N.J. legislature and a few mayors) -- does not crack the Top 10.

A fact: New York - a state where the 1970 Knapp Commission found that just about every cop paroled his beat with his palm out and grasping - also does not make the list.

Things change. They may get better.

But some states are stuck in a cycle of corruption, graft and greed. Stay tuned for a countdown of states to avoid.

Want to know the most honest states in America?

Here they are, as measured for the period 1976-2008: Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Vermont, Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado and Kansas.

In these states public officials who extend their hands are looking to shake, not to get a fast Jackson.