Political corruption has been a problem since the first European settlers arrived in America. From officials to politicians, laws are circumvented to obtain riches and/or power. If you search today’s newspaper headlines, articles about bribes, fraud, and illegal tactics can be found in all levels of government. Right now this includes two U.S. senators and a state governor.
This threatens our democracy and the American people’s overall confidence in city, state and federal officials. It undermines the legitimacy of government and the ethics we trust. Political corruption can be defined as bribery, graft, extortion, robbery, patronage, conflict of interest, and kickbacks.
When elected officials enrich themselves using the availability of their office they break the law of our American Constitution. From our highest office of the President, to the local Sheriff, past scandals have darkened the reputations of those who have crossed the line of the law.
Many of these crimes go unpunished. Sometimes the evidence is destroyed or the person’s involved are murdered to cover-up unscrupulous deeds. Why have Americans turned their cheeks to this injustice?
As citizens we pay taxes, enjoy certain freedoms and are expected to behave morally and ethically in our society. Our expectation of government is to keep us safe, show leadership in crisis and follow those same rules. Do you believe this is the case today?
When out-of-control drug cartels, organized crime and blatant injustices thrive in our society, it screams the fact that something is seriously wrong with our system.
Previous reforms like the Pendleton Act of 1883, to create a federal civil service to cope with patronage problems, the Select Committee on standards and conduct for members of Congress and the 1978 Ethics in government Act, created to investigate government misconduct, have reduced these crimes. Though questionable lobbyist behaviors still seems to go unchecked.
Somehow we hesitate to believe that political corruption is as much a crime as the shady criminal who robs your local convenience store. The main difference is our corrupt political officials are undermining our economic development and increasing the need for higher taxes.
Political corruption affects the United States at every level. It increases the cost of business and reduces the quality of government services. It can effect the personal lives of all those involved. The consequences if remained unchecked can last for decades like the story of political icon, Otto Preston.,
Political sex scandals can also compromise our trust in government officials. This breach of ethics can lead to charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, bribes, withholding evidence and contempt of court.
Corruption in the Legislative branch of government reduces accountability and distorts representation in policy making. Corruption in the judiciary branch of government compromises the rule of law and when in public administration it can result in a lack of transparency and loss of trust.
We need to be more alert and conscious as an American public to local, state and federal corruption. We need to also understand what motivates someone to commit this crime.