Fresno Named California Most Corrupt City, Again


According to research by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Fresno—the fifth-biggest city in California and the 34th-largest in the US—has been named the nation’s most corrupt city for the second year running. According to a survey that looked at federal corruption convictions from 1976 to 2020, Fresno has the most convictions (1,8110) out of the 75 major US cities. With more than 1,700 convictions during the same period, Chicago—the largest city in Illinois and the third largest in the United States—also gained the dubious distinction of being the most corrupt city.

The Causes of Corruption

According to the analysis, Fresno’s high levels of corruption are caused by a number of things, such as the city’s long history of racial discrimination, political patronage, and a dearth of accountability and openness. Chinese laborers in Fresno, which was founded in 1872 by the Central Pacific Railroad Company, were subjected to abuse and violence by white immigrants. Laws and regulations that discriminated against different ethnic groups, such as African Americans, Japanese, Mexicans, and Armenians, served to further the marginalization and subjugation of these communities by the predominately white majority.

Strong interest groups that controlled the city’s resources and economy, like the railroad, water, and agriculture sectors, also had an impact on Fresno’s political climate. These organizations frequently rigged contracts, elections, and laws to their advantage, creating a corrupt and nepotistic society that persists to this day. The city government has additionally come under fire for its lack of accountability and transparency, as many decisions are taken behind closed doors without consultation with the public or monitoring.

Continued Research

Due to concerns about corruption in Fresno, the federal government began a thorough investigation into the operations of Fresno City Hall in 2018. The city’s purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the COVID-19 epidemic, the nonprofit in charge of maintaining city-owned Granite Park, and the land purchase for a downtown development project are the three primary subjects of the continuing investigation.

Under investigation for alleged “deficient to nonexistent” internal accounting controls and dubious transactions, including a $50,000 transfer from a business owned by former Representative TJ Cox, the Central Valley Community Sports Foundation’s treasurer until 2019, is headed by developer Terance Frazier.

Concerns have been raised about the city’s PPE acquisition, which involved spending more than $4 million on masks, gloves, and gowns from PPE Solutions, a business that had no experience with medical supplies. According to reports, the business—owned by a friend of Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer—produced a $500,000 kickback.

Developer Cliff Tutelian’s proposed downtown development, The Row, is the subject of the land purchase. Tutelian filed a federal lawsuit requesting $10 million in damages, alleging discrimination and bribery by a Fresno City Council member. Members of the council began accusing each other of wrongdoing and corruption after hearing this claim.

The Future of Fresno

The Fresno corruption scandal exposed structural problems in the city’s political and social structure, harming the city’s reputation and undermining trust. The city needs trustworthy and capable leadership to address issues like homelessness, poverty, violence, and the environment. For Fresno to become a more inclusive, open, and democratic city, a more profound change in institutions, laws, values, and attitudes is required, even though the federal investigation may result in some justice and responsibility.

Read More: This City Is Known as Maine’s Murder Capital


In conclusion, Fresno has the regrettable distinction of having been designated the most corrupt city in the United States for two years running, with 1,810 convictions between 1976 and 2020. Influential interest groups compound Fresno’s corruption, which has its roots in historical racial prejudice, political favoritism, and a lack of accountability. Serious concerns are raised by ongoing federal investigations into City Hall operations, including dubious COVID-19 personal protective equipment acquisitions and downtown development projects. To effectively address severe social difficulties and regain confidence, Fresno must make fundamental adjustments to its leadership, institutions, laws, and values in light of the corruption scandal, which has exposed underlying vulnerabilities.

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