A permanent allotted anti-corruption body is a realistic meaningful reform

From an interview with investigative reporter Lee Fang about the recent retirement of Eric Holder from his job as Attorney General of the US and his resumption of his job at the law firm Covington & Burling:

Lee Fang: One of the perhaps most cynical and and most prevalent ways that you can legally bribe a government official or an elected official is to wait to give them a multi-million dollar check, not while they’re in office, but as soon as they retire. So if a politician helps a bank or an oil company, that oil company can’t directly buy them a boat or give them a million-dollar check. But if they wait until that official retires from office, as soon as they step out the door of Congress and find an employment contract with a lobbying firm or a big bank, then they can accept a multi-million-dollar payday; and so it’s simply delayed bribery, in my perspective.

When I express skepticism about the utility of ad-hoc, local, advisory allotted bodies, the retort is often that without such initial steps the average person, habituated to electoralism, would never support entrusting real political power to allotted bodies.

I see no reason to believe this claim is true. Support for allotted bodies which would be tasked with fighting corruption in elected government should be easy to build up for three reasons:

  • Legal corruption is an ongoing public concern, which cuts across the political spectrum and which the electoralist system is unable to address effectively,
  • The purview of such a body can be circumscribed clearly,
  • Fighting corruption is a natural extension of the function of the judicial jury.

In view of these considerations I believe that pushing for the establishment of a permanent allotted anti-corruption body should be the top priority for any person or organization aiming at democratization of government (and in particular for any person or organization promoting democratization through sortition).

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4 Responses

  1. 1. The Attorney General is an appointed government official, so any connection with “electoralism” is entirely contingent.

    2. Why would an allotted body be better at routing out the sort of legal corruption that you refer to? All you need to do is change the law, making such payments illegal for x years after leaving office. This could be achieved by electoral pressure (if the public were sufficiently outraged then a political party would put it on their manifesto in order to win the next election), but would be beyond the remit of a supervisory body, who would also lack the forensic investigative skills necessary to identify this sort of behaviour.

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  2. A rotating, anonymous, assigned body/ persons to rid corruption will do. To ensure that bribery which aids corruption is stopped, assigned people must be anonymous (NOT PERMANENT) and they must be rotated. There are many options which are being considered at this time. But, for sure, we must get REFORM on the 2016 ballot. We must put an end to greed and its opportunities that is destroying America and her people.

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  3. Hi America On Coffee,

    By “permanent” I referred to the body, not its members. In the same way that Congress is a permanent body. Yes – the members in any allotted body should be rotated.

    As for anonymity – this is an idea that has been discussed here before, which I think this very dangerous. See this post and the following discussion in comments.

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