Ethics in Congress: From Individual to Institutional Corruption / Edition 1

Ethics in Congress: From Individual to Institutional Corruption / Edition 1

by Dennis F. Thompson
     
 

ISBN-10: 0815784236

ISBN-13: 9780815784234

Pub. Date: 12/01/1995

Publisher: Brookings Institution Press

More members of Congress have been investigated and sanctioned for ethical misconduct in the past decade and a half than in the entire previous history of the institution. But individual members are probably less corrupt than they once were. Stricter ethics codes and closer scrutiny by the press and public have imposed standards no previous representatives have had

Overview

More members of Congress have been investigated and sanctioned for ethical misconduct in the past decade and a half than in the entire previous history of the institution. But individual members are probably less corrupt than they once were. Stricter ethics codes and closer scrutiny by the press and public have imposed standards no previous representatives have had to face. Dennis Thompson shows how the institution itself is posing new ethical challenges, how the complexity of the environment in which members work creates new occasions for corruption and invites more calls for accountability.

Instead of the individual corruption that has long been the center of attention, Thompson focuses on institutional corruption which refers to conduct that under certain conditions is an acceptable part of the job of a representative. Members are required to solicit campaign contributions, and they are expected to help constituents with their problems with government, but some ways of doing these jobs give rise to institutional corruption. The author moves the discussion beyond bribery, extortion, and simple personal gain to delve into implicit understandings, ambiguous favors, and political advantage.

Thompson examines many major ethics cases of recent years. Among them: the case of David Durenberger, accused of supplementing his income through book promotions; the case of the Keating Five, accused of using undue influence with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board on behalf of Lincoln Savings and Loan owner Charles Keating; and the case of House Speaker James Wright, accused of several offenses.

Thompson shows why neither the electoral process nor the judicial process is sufficient and argues for stronger ethics committees and the creation of a new quasi-independent body to take over some of the enforcement process. He offers more than a dozen recommendations for changes in the procedures and practices of ethics in Congress.

The book features a listing of ethics charges, classified by type of corruption, considered by Congress from 1789 to 1992.

Selected by Choice as an Outstanding Book of 1995

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815784234
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
12/01/1995
Pages:
264
Sales rank:
800,012
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
1490L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Prefacexi
Introduction1
1.Purposes of Legislative Ethics10
Personal Ethics and Legislative Ethics11
The Priority of Legislative Ethics16
The Scope of Legislative Ethics18
Principles of Legislative Ethics19
Legislative Ethics and Institutional Corruption24
2.Dynamics of Legislative Corruption26
The Elements of Corruption28
The Individual Corruption of David Durenberger34
The Institutional Corruption of the Keating Five37
The Diverse Corruptions of James C. Wright, Jr.43
3.Gains of Office49
The Legitimacy of Personal Gain49
General Offenses52
Conflicts of Interest55
Perquisites of Office60
The Imperatives of Political Gain65
Ambition and Independence69
Fairness to Colleagues, Challengers, and Congress72
4.Services of Office77
Undeserved Service78
Favoritism80
Institutional Consequences of Constituent Service84
Limitations of Legal Standards88
Limitations of Ethical Standards90
Toward Stronger Standards93
5.Corrupt Connections102
Corrupt Motives103
Mixed Motives108
Short-Circuiting the Democratic Process113
The Root of Some Evil115
The Importance of Appearances124
6.Tribunals of Legislative Ethics131
The Deficiencies of Self-Discipline132
Letting Voters Decide137
Letting Courts Decide143
Strengthening the Ethics Committees147
Conclusion166
AppendixCharges of Ethics Violations Considered by Congress, 1789-1992182
Notes191
Index239

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