Bribe: a payment given personally to a government official in exchange of his use of official powers, requiring one to give the bribe and the other to take it. Now, we all know bribes are illegal, so it wouldn’t make sense for “lawmakers” to be guilty of it, right?
Wrong! According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics on public corruption, in 2010 alone, there were over 1,400 charges of public corruption in the U.S., which represents the most in recent history. The majority of those charges involved federal officials, with local officials coming in a close second.
Campaign corruption is, by far, the most common form of public corruption. From acting in the interest of corporate funders after election time to selling a vacant seat to the highest bidder (think Rod Blagojevich), it’s no wonder the U.S. ranks in the top 25 of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Unfortunately, it is very hard to obtain convictions for this form of bribery, as hard evidence is needed and quid pro quo (“this for that”) is fairly difficult to prove. As such, undercover agents are routinely used during the course of an investigation to obtain such evidence. A recent case involving corruption regarding the sale of military equipment was brought to trial and convicted through the use of undercover agents posing as eager businessmen.
So, the next time you see money being earmarked in a national budget or hear of a policy benefiting a particular group, don’t think it’s just a coincidence; it may be residue of an intricate corruption scheme.