Skip to main content Accessibility help

Political Corruption in the United States: A Design Draft

  • Amitai Etzioni (a1)

To establish the scope and level of corruption in the contemporary United States, a collaborative project of political scientists is needed. Such a study should start with explicating the definition of corruption various scholars use. Three are noted here: using public goods for personal gains, deflecting public goods to private groups, and making such moves when these are legal although they are still illicit. To assess corruption on these levels, we must consider that various forms that “capture” takes beyond the corruption of the laws themselves. A study of the major differences in the level of corruption among the three branches of government may improve our understanding of the prevalence and causes of corruption. A study of “rent” may help predict that future course of corruption. Other topics whose study warrants collaborative investigation are listed.

Hide All
Anechiarico, Frank, and Jacobs, James B.. 1996. The Pursuit of Absolute Integrity: How Corruption Control Makes Government Ineffective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Snyder, James M. Jr. 1999. “Money and Institutional Power.” Texas Law Review 77 (June): 1673–704.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, de Figueiredo, John M., and Snyder, James M. Jr. 2002. “Why Is There So Little Money in U.S. Politics?” NBER Working Paper No. 9409 (December).
Cahlink, George. 2004. “Ex-Pentagon Procurement Executive Gets Jail Time.” Government Executive, October 1.
The Economist. 2003. “Setting the Rules.” January 24.
Eggen, David, and Farnam, T. W.. 2012. “Spending by Independent Groups Had Little Election Impact, Analysis Finds.” Washington Post, November 7.
Elster, Jon. 1989. The Cement of Society: A Survey of Social Order. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Farnam, T. W. 2013. “Congressional Staffers Often Travel on Tabs of Foreign Governments.” Washington Post, February 17.
Friedrich, Carl J. 1966. “Political Pathology.” Political Quarterly 37 (January): 7085. Cited in, Political Corruption: A Handbook, eds. Arnold Heidenheimer, Michael Johnston, and Victor T. LeVine. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers (1989) at 10.
Genovese, Michael A. 2010. “Presidential Corruption: A Longitudinal Analysis.” In Corruption and American Politics, eds. Genovese, Michael A. and Farrar-Myers, Victoria. New York: Cambria Press.
Hall, Richard L., and Van Houweling, Robert P.. 2006. “Campaign Contributions and Lobbying on the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia.
Johnston, Michael. 2006. “From Thucydides to Mayor Daley: Bad Politics, and a Culture of Corruption?PS: Political Science and Politics 39 (4): 809–19.
Knott, Alex. 2011. “FEC Falls Short on Enforcement, Commissioner Says,” Roll Call, 27 May,
Kroft, Steve. 2011. “Congress: Trading Stock on Inside Information?” 60 Minutes, November 13.
Olken, Benjamin A., and Pande, Rohini. 2011. “Corruption in Developing Countries.” NBER Working Paper No. 17398 (September).
Peters, John G., and Welch, Susan. 1978. “Political Corruption in America: A Search for Definitions and a Theory, or If Political Corruption Is in the Mainstream of American Politics Why Is It Not in the Mainstream of American Politics Research?The American Political Science Review 72 (3): 974–84.
Philip, Mark. 1997. “Defining Political Corruption.” Political Studies 45: 436–62.
Stigler, George. 1971. “The Theory of Economic Regulation.” Bell Journal of Economic and Management Science 2 (Spring): 321.
Thurber, James A. 2010. “Changing the Way Washington Works? President Obama's Battle with Lobbyists.” Presented at the Conference on The Early Obama Presidency, London.
Warren, Mark E. 2006. “Political Corruption as Duplicitous Exclusion.” PS: Political Science and Politics 37 (4): 803–07.
Wertheimer, Fred, and Simon, Don. 2013. “The FEC: The Failure to Enforce Commission.” American Constitution Society Issue Brief (January): 1–22.
Wilhite, Allen, and Theilmann, John. 1987. “Labor PAC Contributions and Labor Legislation: A Simultaneous Logit Approach.” Public Choice 53 (June): 267–76.
Wilson, Molly J. Walker. 2010. “Behavioral Decision Theory and Implications for the Supreme Court's Campaign Finance Jurisprudence.” Cardozo Law Review 31: 649747.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed