Table of contents(14 chapters)
Citizens are demanding better performance from governments and they are increasingly aware of the costs of poor management and corruption. In view of scarce resources and the major transformations already underway in the global economy, identification and awareness of good governance and preventing corrupt practices have become key to ensuring structural reforms and critical investments necessary for encouraging, sustaining, and enhancing economic growth and competitiveness. Political corruption severely undermines government legitimacy and weakens the development of political, economic, social, and environmental structures.
The research uncovers an increase in the disapproval of Congress and a drop in public trust in government associated with exposed congressional corruption in the post-Watergate era. The tools Congress holds to punish members caught up in scandal are discussed and the chapter considers five major scandals to rock Congress since the 1970s. Importantly, we uncover evidence that government institutions and actors are somewhat resilient and can bounce back after experiencing negative public sentiment for a period of time. Yet, it seems in the aftermath of exposed corruption, the corresponding drop in public support has policy implications. We determine that movement in public disapproval of Congress and overall trust in government help explain public law output and the ability of Congress to pass its contemporary legislative agenda.
Permeation of Corruption in Governance
Just over ten years ago, the American legislative system was rocked by a series of scandals surrounding powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff who claimed to have “bought” influence in nearly half of the United States congressional offices. The Abramoff scandal brought public attention to three critical areas of corruption in congressional politics: loopholes in gift-giving laws, campaign finance, and the revolving door. For instance, why are lobbyists allowed to buy a meal for congressional representatives if they are both standing up but not if they are sitting down? Why is sharing a simple meal with an elected official banned but allowed so long as campaign contribution checks are exchanged (i.e., the mystery of the $5,000 hamburger)? And just how much does it cost to buy your congressman? We explore these areas of corruption that were brought to light in 2006 by “the biggest political scandal of the century,” and examine how things have, or in some instances, haven’t changed in the years since the Abramoff scandal broke. Does Congress run cleaner today? Or is it still politics as usual?
There is a perception in the United States that campaign contributions equate with vote buying. Outright vote buying is illegal, but many citizens believe that loopholes in campaign contribution laws allow some to buy votes while perpetuating a façade of legitimacy. Both federal and state laws attempt to regulate campaign contributions, but many of those have been limited by the Supreme Court’s ruling that campaign spending is considered free speech (Buckley vs. Valeo, 1976). Without the ability to limit campaign spending, the amount of money it takes to run a campaign, particularly a presidential campaign, has increased substantially. This had led to an increase in the use of bundling by presidential campaigns, with the winners often rewarding their bundlers. It has also led to an increase in outside independent organizations, known as Super PACs, with an unlimited ability to raise and spend money. This creates an additional problem as a small percentage of wealthy individuals constitute the vast majority of campaign contributors, leading to the perception that politicians cater to the elite. Whether a politician is affected by these factors or not is hard to prove, but it still leaves a perception by voters that their votes are less influential than large campaign contributors and there is always a risk that a vote has been bought.
Opinion polls show that contributions to judicial candidates create an appearance of corruption. This perception damages the institutional legitimacy of the courts. This chapter explores the relationship between integrity ratings of Illinois trial judges and campaign contributions. Specifically, it examines the Illinois State Bar Association judicial poll integrity scores of 253 elected judges seated in 101 Illinois counties during 1994–2012. Regression analysis reveals that judicial candidates’ integrity scores declined as (a) the amount of attorney contributions increased; (b) the number of reported attorney contributors enlarged; and (c) the number of large attorney contributors grew. This chapter also discusses the efficacy and limitations of four policies meant to diminish the appearance of corruption: recusal and disqualification rules; anonymous contributions; public financing; and the elimination of the election of judges. Although a radical solution, the policy of abolishing judicial elections is more likely to overcome the appearance of corruption than the other reforms.
This chapter explores the media coverage of the 2016 Presidential campaign and reveals the corruption fantasy themes that emerged. Media coverage of corruption can uniquely affect voter attitudes and public policy formulation and implementation, as revealed in previous scholarship on media coverage of corruption. By tracing the competing narratives offered in media coverage utilizing the constant comparative method, the dramatic characters, Crooked Hillary and Corrupt Businessman Trump, are identified and their storylines are explicated. Analysis reveals these dramatic fantasy themes chained through social media, evincing and promoting the narratives that drove media coverage of our political leaders and public policy results. The chapter illustrates that the narratives involving corruption were prominent and negative, further indicating that the media’s obsession with scandal contributed to and supported the narratives that portrayed both candidates as corrupt, adding pollution to the 2016 U.S. political environment.
Issues of crime, justice, and incarceration play a crucial role in electoral politics. Recent Gallup polls reveal that nearly half of Americans view crime as an extremely serious or very serious problem. Such polls also reveal that Americans have little confidence in the criminal justice system. These issues have been exacerbated recently by the deaths of several young Black men including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois, which brought national attention to the strained relationships between local law enforcement agencies and the communities that they are sworn to serve and protect. Ironically, this concern coincides with a U.S. crime rate that has dropped steadily for more than a decade. Why is the American public increasingly concerned with crime if crime rates are steadily dropping? This chapter explores the role of crime, politics, and media imagery in the making of criminal justice policy. We argue that crime is one of the most enduring political issues of this century and that, in turn, politicians have played a fundamental role in constructing criminal justice policies. The implications for public governance and policymaking are many, as criminal justice policies rely on the public perception of officials as legitimate and just. Scandal and corruption reduce the legitimacy of public officials and lead to public questions about the discretionary decision-making of criminal justice actors as well as the disproportionate consequences in the criminal justice system for poor and minority communities.
This essay explores the reactions within police departments toward sexual harassment scandals. The study describes and analyzes reported cases of sexual harassment and misconduct in police departments to discern citizen narratives and political consequences for elected officials. This assessment hypothesizes that political leadership is an essential element in establishing organizational cultures that combat sexual harassment in local governments. The article contributes to the knowledge about possible gaps in agenda setting, especially for a policy area in which knowledge and problem definitions continue to evolve.
The leadership of the Iraq and Afghanistan war has been criticized for reported cases of contractor corruption. This chapter examines the extent to which these wars have played out in the political agendas of candidates for President. The hypothesis is that while the two wars continue to be a key campaign issue in election cycles, the corruption narrative is a neglected part of the discourse. There are possible reasons for the disjuncture between United States (U.S.) positions against corruption by foreign governments and contractor behaviors within the defense industry, namely the impact of corruption on voters, candidates and other stakeholders. The chapter closes with lessons about the effects of corruption on agenda setting while also contributing to research on evaluation of private-public partnerships in public policy implementation and governance.
Oversight and Accountability
This chapter examines the role that Citizens United v. FEC (2010) has played in shaping the current system of election spending in the United States. In Citizens United, the Court determined that individual rights to speech and expression can flow into the corporate entities they join. This chapter argues that the Court’s holding serves to redirect the focus of accountability away from those who seek to sway election outcomes through massive election spending and toward any efforts by government to regulate that type of spending. The practical result has been to allow for the creation of new organizations that can take in unlimited amounts of money while also effectively hiding the source of funds from disclosure. By muddying the waters of disclosure, these new entities – Super PACs and dark money organizations – lower the ability of citizens to maintain accountability over the electoral system. Finally, this chapter examines ways to encourage greater disclosure and accountability in government after Citizens United.
Under the doctrine of judicial review established by Marbury v. Madison (1803) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), courts retain the power and authority to review legislative and executive actions and rule on their constitutionality or legality. Courts may also review actions of judges and lower court decisions. This is an important and necessary action to maintain the checks and balances and separation of powers in the United States (U.S.) political system. It is also critical for providing legal oversight and accountability. This chapter will first look at judicial review historically including relevant statutes and cases, actions by the executive branch, and efforts by Congress.
Additionally, the chapter will examine the relationship between judicial review and public policy. Through laws passed by Congress or regulations enacted by federal agencies, these branches of government draft policies with the expectation the judicial branch will enforce them. The courts, however, are to uphold the Constitution first and foremost, and rule on the constitutionality of the laws and regulations. Judicial opinions can have the effect of creating policy, which is a different purpose than the Founding Fathers intended. After reviewing the court system, the chapter will examine several issue areas where the court has been shaped by and in turn influenced public policy.
At a time when governmental corruption seems rife and administrations grow ever more secretive, the whistleblower is a crucial resource in journalism’s attempts to make accountable those who wield power. Yet despite legislation that is meant to protect employees and officials who expose wrongdoing, a governmental “war on whistleblowers” has made the hazards faced by many whistleblowers increasingly grim. This chapter explores the role of the journalist/whistleblower collaboration in disclosing important, but sensitive, information involving national security. In discussing case studies of those who have braved the government’s anger, we examine not only the circumstances of these breaches, but also their political and legal repercussions.
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- Public Policy and Governance
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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