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

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The reputation of Congress is not high, and anyone who writes about its ethics runs the risk of either encouraging the bashers or joining the apologists. This book was written in a spirit of respect for Congress and with an attitude of admiration for most of those who serve as members.
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Editorial Reviews

Thompson (political philosophy, Harvard U.) argues that the demand for accountability in the political environment has rendered traditional codes of conduct inadequate. He identifies the less familiar forms of institutional corruption such as implicit understandings and political advantage, and examines the cases of David Durenberger, the Keating Five, and House Speaker James Wright. Includes an appendix of charges of ethics violations considered by Congress from 1789 to 1992. Paper edition (unseen), $14.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher

"A lucid perspective on the state of congressional ethics.... Readable, erudite, and subtly argued." — Kirkus Review

"This important book on a timeless topic should be added to every serious political library.
" — Choice

"Thompson's commonsense, real world approach, when combined with his scholarship and brilliance, make this a major contribution to the field of congressional ethics." —Robert S. Bennet, Former Special Counsel, Senate Ethics Committee, Endors

"a suggestion for the policy wonk on your Christmas shopping list" —Kathy Gill,, 12/10/2007

"The whole area of Congressional ethics is in desperate need of nuance, analytical rigor, and attention to the problems that really matter. Thompson brings those qualities to the topic. His move to institutional corruption is important conceptually because most people, practitioners and thoughtful commentators alike, are preoccupied with individual corruption. And it's important practically because that preoccupation blinds everybody to some truly important issues. Thompson brings a rare clarity, perspective, and detachment to these matters." —John Kingdon, University of Michigan, Author of Congressmen's Voting Decisions

"Exemplifies bold intellectual leadership. It identifies, clarifies, and illustrates the political problem of institutional corruption. It is an elegant analysis of practices of Congress and principles of representative democracy by some one who wants to strengthen both." —Richard F. Fenno, University of Rochester

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815784234
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1995
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Lexile: 1490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Dennis F. Thompson, the Alfred North Whitehead Professor of Political Philosophy and director of the Program in Ethics and the Professions at Harvard University, is the author of Political Ethics and Public Office (Harvard, 1987).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Purposes of Legislative Ethics 10
2 Dynamics of Legislative Corruption 26
3 Gains of Office 49
4 Services of Office 77
5 Corrupt Connections 102
6 Tribunals of Legislative Ethics 131
Conclusion 166
Appendix: Charges of Ethics Violations Considered by Congress, 1789-1992 182
Notes 191
Index 239
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