Recent posts have treated readers to a discussion of what corruption means. Professor Rothstein suggested coming at it from its opposite and offered “impartiality” so corruption would mean the absence of impartiality or bias. [Note: I had flubbed Prof. Rothstein’s view in the original text as per his comment below.] Professor Johnson argued that at its core corruption is about an imbalance of power and suggested tying the definition to notions of “justice.” Transparency International’s “abuse of entrusted power for private gain” was also examined.
I think it time for GAB readers to be heard. Rather than asking which one of these definitions they prefer, or whether they have another candidate, however, I thought it more interesting to see how a definition of corruption helps them judge actual conduct in the real world.
Below are six cases where at least some have alleged corruption was afoot. What say, GAB readers? Do any of the cases described below involve corruption as you define it?
A yea or nay on each in a comment to this post will suffice. Extra credit for explaining how one of the definitions proffered helped you decide. Lifetime subscription to GAB at the current rate to the best entry or entries. How each played out in court and in the court of public opinion will be revealed in a future post.
Case 1. To defeat a motion of no confidence, Vanuatu’s Unity of Change government offered two MPs parliamentary appointments in return for withdrawing their support for the motion. Another MP was offered the position of Minister of Health, and a fourth Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries. All four accepted the offers, and the government defeated the motion. Bribery?
Case 2. Upon his election as President, Barack Obama resigned his seat in the U.S. Senate. Under Illinois law, the governor appoints someone who serves until the next election. Governor Rod Blagojevich offered to name a close friend of Obama’s to the seat if Obama would make him a Cabinet Secretary. Obama refused. Attempted bribery?
Case 3. A candidate for mayor of Oakland, California, pledged to revitalize depressed areas of the city if elected. After winning the election, critics argued the now Oakland mayor must recuse himself from any involvement in redeveloping these areas as he lived in one of them and his decisions would affect the value of his property. Conflict of interest?
Case 4. Australia’s Liberal Party controlled the New South Wales Legislative Assembly thanks to the support of four independent MPs. Tony Metherall, a Liberal Party Minister, resigned his position in the Cabinet and his party membership after being accused of tax offenses but remained in parliament as an independent. After behind the scenes negotiation with the government, he resigned from parliament. On the same day he was appointed to a well-paid position in the New South Wales public service. Bribery?
Case 5. Shortly after a Democrat was elected governor of Kentucky, James Gray, a newly installed political appointee, told the agent then writing the state’s workers compensation policy that the agent could continue as the state’s agent provided he shared his commission with other insurance agencies, in one of which Gray was part-owner. Commission rates were fixed so Kentucky was not out money from the sharing arrangement. Kickback?
Case 6. Canadian Prime Minister owned part of a golf course next to a hotel in his riding or electoral district. He pressured the national development bank to extend a loan to the hotel next door so that it could expand. Conflict of interest?