Corruption in the United States

Corruption in the United States is the act of government officials abusing their political powers for private gain, typically through bribery or other methods.

As of 2018, Transparency International ranks the United States as the 22nd least corrupt country[1](out of 180 countries), falling from 18th since 2016.[2]


During the time of the Trump Administration, Transparency International noted in 2019[3] that the United States is “experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances”, along with an “erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power”.

US topics related to corruption

Convictions of government officials

Political scandals and crimes

See also


  1. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2018". Transparency International. January 29, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2016". Transparency International. January 25, 2017. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Americas: Weakening Democracy and Rise in Populism Hinder Anti-corruption Efforts". Transparency International. January 29, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.

Further reading

External links

Deep state in the United States

In the United States, the term "deep state" is used in political messaging to describe collusion and cronyism that exists within the political system. Some analysts believe that there is "a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process", whereas others consider the deep state to encompass corruption that is particularly prevalent amongst career politicians and civil servants.The term was originally coined in a somewhat pejorative sense to refer to similar relatively invisible state apparatus in Turkey "composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary, and organized crime" and similar networks in other countries including Egypt, Ukraine, Spain, Colombia, Italy, and Israel, and many others. With respect to the United States, the concept has been discussed in numerous published works by Marc Ambinder, David W. Brown, Jerome Corsi, Peter Dale Scott, Mike Lofgren, Kevin Shipp, Michael Tomasky and Michael Wolff. Allegedly, per George Friedman, the Deep State has been in place since 1871 and continues beneath the federal government, controlling and frequently reshaping policies. Reportedly, the entity, called the U.S. civil service, was created to limit the power of the president. Prior to 1871, the president could select federal employees, all of whom served at the pleasure of the president. This is no longer true.While definitions vary, the term gained popularity among various political groups who are concerned about government transparency. Following the disclosure of documents released by WikiLeaks, the term was widely adopted among many voters who alleged that the information points to a deep-state conspiracy that seeks to delegitimize democracy and the policy goals of the people.

Federal prosecution of public corruption in the United States

Several statutes, mostly codified in Title 18 of the United States Code, provide for federal prosecution of public corruption in the United States. Federal prosecutions of public corruption under the Hobbs Act (enacted 1934), the mail and wire fraud statutes (enacted 1872), including the honest services fraud provision, the Travel Act (enacted 1961), and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (enacted 1970) began in the 1970s. "Although none of these statutes was enacted in order to prosecute official corruption, each has been interpreted to provide a means to do so." The federal official bribery and gratuity statute, 18 U.S.C. § 201 (enacted 1962), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) 15 U.S.C. § 78dd (enacted 1977), and the federal program bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. § 666 (enacted 1984) directly address public corruption.

The statutes differ in their jurisdictional elements, the mens rea that they require (for example, a quid pro quo or a nexus), the species of official actions that are cognizable, whether or not non-public official defendants can be prosecuted, and in the authorized sentence. The statutes most often used to prosecute public corruption are the Hobbs Act, Travel Act, RICO, the program bribery statute, and mail and wire fraud statutes.These statutes have been upheld as exercises of Congress's Commerce Clause power, or in the case of the mail fraud and program bribery statutes, the Postal Clause and the Spending Clause, respectively. In the special case where a member of Congress is the defendant, the Speech or Debate Clause places certain restrictions on the actions that can be prosecuted and proved up. Some commentators have argued that prosecutions of state and local officials under these statutes pose substantial federalism questions, while others argue that the Guarantee Clause provides additional authority for such prosecutions.

Foreign official

Foreign official or foreign public official refers to a person who acts in an official capacity for a foreign government. The term is chiefly used in connection with international conventions and national laws against corruption in international trade.

Gerrymandering in the United States

Gerrymandering in the United States is the practice of setting boundaries of electoral districts to favor specific political interests within legislative bodies. Partisan gerrymandering to increase the power of a political party has been practiced since the beginning of the United States.

After racial minorities were granted the power to vote, some jurisdictions engaged in racial gerrymandering to weaken the political power of minority voters. In some instances, political parties have colluded to protect incumbents by engaging in bipartisan gerrymandering.

In the United States, redistricting takes place in each state about every ten years, following the decennial census, and has always been regarded as a political exercise, which in most states is controlled by state legislators and governor. When one party controls the state House, Senate and governor's office, it is in a strong position to gerrymander district boundaries to advantage their side and disadvantage their political opponents. As an example, Maryland's 3rd congressional district (see map on right) is currently among the most gerrymandered districts in the United States. There is no opportunity for gerrymandering for Senate seats, as each senator is elected by a whole of state constituency, nor in the seven states that have only one member in the House of Representatives.

Throughout the 20th century, courts have grappled with the legality of the various types of gerrymandering and have devised different standards for the different types of gerrymandering. Various legal and political remedies have been proposed to prevent gerrymandering, including court-ordered redistricting plans, redistricting commissions, and alternative voting systems that do not depend on drawing boundaries for single-member electoral districts.


Grantism is a derisive term of United States origin referring to the political incompetence, corruption, and fraud, during the administration of President Ulysses S. Grant. His Presidency, from 1869 to 1877, was marred by many scandals and fraudulent activities associated with persons within his administration, including his cabinet, which was in continual transition, divided by the forces of political corruption and reform. Among them were: Black Friday, corruption in the Department of the Interior, the Sanborn incident, and the Whiskey Ring. (The Crédit Mobilier scandal, although exposed during his tenure, is not considered a Grant scandal.)

The term Grantism was coined by his political opponents and by Lost Causers. Some historians defend Grant, noting that he was the first President to establish the Civil Service Commission, had reformers in his Cabinet, and ended the corrupt moiety system of privateer tax collectors profiteering by taking a percentage of delinquent taxes. His enemies wanted to undermine the moral integrity of his administration and for his enforcement of African American civil rights during Reconstruction.

Grant, ever trusting of associates, was himself influenced by both forces. The standards in many of his appointments were low, and charges of corruption were widespread. Although not directly involved with these scandals, the president's associations with people of questionable character and his reliance on cronyism, nepotism, and political patronage gave rise to accusations of "Grantism". Historians agree that corruption in the Grant administration was due to Grant's unqualified appointments of close friends and family, and remain perplexed why he protected his personal secretary Orville E. Babcock.

Hatchet man (idiom)

In the context of the Watergate scandal, the term hatchet man was used to refer to a trusted and particularly orthodox subordinate tasked by his employer with destroying a political opponent by any means necessary. Charles Colson was known as a hatchet man for President Richard Nixon, as was H.R. Haldeman, who proudly described himself as "Richard Nixon's 'son of a bitch'". This use of the term has since become commonplace for anyone who is tasked with conducting distasteful, illegal, or unfair "dirty work" to protect the reputation or power of their employer.

International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998

The International Anti-Bribery and Fair Competition Act of 1998 (Pub.L. 105–366, 112 Stat. 3302, enacted November 10, 1998) is a United States federal law that amends the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by implementing the provisions of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

The act makes it illegal for a citizen or corporation of the United States or a person or corporation acting within the United States to influence, bribe or seek an advantage from a public official of another country.

Iron triangle (US politics)

In United States politics, the "iron triangle" comprises the policy-making relationship among the congressional committees, the bureaucracy, and interest groups, as described in 1981 by Gordon Adams. Earlier mentions of this ‘iron triangle’ concept are in a 1956 Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report as, “Iron triangle: Clout, background, and outlook” and “Chinks in the Iron Triangle?”

Juan García Ábrego

Juan García Ábrego (born September 13, 1944) is a Mexican former drug lord who started out his criminal career under the tutelage of his uncle Juan Nepomuceno Guerra, who is reported to be the former head of a criminal dynasty along the Mexico–United States border now called the Gulf Cartel.

United States intelligence reports state Guerra reared his nephew on car theft before passing down his criminal enterprise. The exact date of succession is unknown; however, law enforcement officials recall an incident on January 27, 1987, when Tomás Morlet, former officer in an elite Mexican police force turned national trafficker, exchanged harsh words with García Ábrego and was later found, shot twice in the back in the doorway of Guerra's Piedras Negras Restaurant.

Lindley DeVecchio

Lindley DeVecchio (born Roy Lindley DeVecchio; April 18, 1940, Fresno, California) is a former U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent in charge of managing mob informants. DeVecchio worked for the FBI during the Mafia wars in New York during the 1980s and 1990s, eventually rising to head of the FBI squad responsible for surveillance of the Colombo crime family. He was also responsible for handling Gregory Scarpa, a Colombo capo who had secretly been an FBI informant since the 1960s.

Marvin L. Kline

Marvin Lewis Kline (August 9, 1903 – April 9, 1974) was an architectural engineer and Republican politician who served as the 34th mayor of Minneapolis.

Paul Powell (politician)

Paul Taylor Powell (January 21, 1902 – October 10, 1970) was a Democratic politician from Illinois, and Illinois Secretary of State from 1965 until his death in 1970, after which he was discovered to have been corrupt and became known for his saying "There's only one thing worse than a defeated politician, and that's a broke one."

Philip Giordano

Philip Anthony Giordano (born March 25, 1963) is the former Republican mayor of Waterbury, Connecticut, and a convicted sex offender. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela, to Italian parents and his family moved to the United States when he was two years old.

A lawyer, former state representative and former Marine (1981–1985), Giordano served three terms as mayor after being elected for the first time in 1995. In 2000, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate, losing to Joe Lieberman.

Salary Grab Act

The Salary Grab Act was passed by the United States Congress on March 3, 1873. The effect of the Act was, the day before the inauguration of President Ulysses S. Grant for a second term, to double the salary of the President (to $50,000) and the salaries of Supreme Court Justices. Hidden in the salary increases was also a 50 percent increase for members of Congress, retroactive to the beginning of their just-ending term. Public outcry led Congress to rescind the congressional salary increase. As a protest against the Act, Ohio ratified what would become the Twenty-seventh Amendment.

Texans for Public Justice

Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) is an Austin-based non-profit group founded in 1997 to take on political corruption and corporate abuses in Texas, United States. Their early focus was on tracking campaign contributions in Texas and elsewhere, including contributions to George W. Bush's campaign in the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections. The group lodged the original complaints which led to the now overturned conviction of former US Representative Tom Delay, as well as current Texas Governor Rick Perry's widely criticized August 2014 felony indictment.It has been accused of being "funded by out-of-state foundations and rich individuals to specialize in "lawfare" against state officials of whose policies they disapprove". Craig McDonald, a Michigan native, founded the organization and is its current Director. He began his career on the political left via the public interest movement in the late-1970s working as a community organizer. Working for Ralph Nader's Public Citizen activist group in 1984, he went on to create the Texas office of Public Citizen in that same year.

According to TPJ, its board of directors includes, in addition to McDonald, two other veterans of Nader's Public Citizen; a former aide to the late Texas Democratic Gov. Ann Richards who was also a Clinton-Gore organizer; and a journalist who "has written for numerous progressive publications." McDonald claims that TPJ only reveals its institutional funders and doesn't reveal its individual supporters for fear of political retaliation. He said he doesn't consider that policy in conflict with the group's work in highlighting the impact of money in politics. The group receives monies from George Soros, Open Society Foundations, the Piper Foundation, the Sunlight Foundation, the Winkler Family Foundation, and Good Jobs First. Its 2005 tax return showed "Texas trial lawyers as major contributors."

United States Border Patrol

The United States Border Patrol (USBP) is an American federal law enforcement agency whose mission is to detect and prevent illegal aliens, terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, and prevent illegal trafficking of people and contraband. It is the mobile, uniformed law enforcement arm of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS).With 19,437 agents, the Border Patrol is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. For fiscal year 2017, Congress enacted a budget of $3,805,253,000 for the Border Patrol.The current chief of the Border Patrol is Carla Provost.

Vote early and vote often

Vote early and vote often is a generally tongue-in-cheek phrase used in relation to elections and the voting process. Though rarely considered a serious suggestion, the phrase theoretically encourages corrupt electoral activity, but is used mostly to suggest the occurrence of such corruption.The phrase had its origins in the United States in the mid-19th century, and had an early appearance in Britain when a newspaper reprinted correspondence from an American solicitor. The phrase, however, did not find widespread use until the early 1900s when it was used in relation to the activities of organized crime figures in Chicago.

Young Political Majors

Young Political Majors, LLC, also known as YPM, was a private consulting firm, which registered people to vote as Republicans. It operated in several states including California, Florida, Arizona and Massachusetts. The firm was accused of misleading voters into registering as Republicans.

Yéle Haiti

Yéle Haiti was a charitable organization established in 2001 by Haitian musician and rapper Wyclef Jean, who was born in Haiti and has kept ties there. It is legally known as the Wyclef Jean Foundation and incorporated in the state of Illinois, United States. It operated into 2012, when it was closed after investigations by the New York State Attorney General over financial issues. The title was coined by Jean, meaning "cry for freedom." It publicized its fundraising to aid victims of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake, but by February of that year, the New York Times reported that questions were raised over its finances, and that funds had been used to benefit Jean personally and members of his circle. The charity is subject to suits in Haiti attempting to recover unpaid debts.

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