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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1166343
 
 

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Assessing Partisan Bias in Federal Public Corruption Prosecutions


Sanford C. Gordon


New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

April 22, 2009


Abstract:     
The 2007 U.S. Attorney firing scandal raised the specter of political bias in the prosecution of officials under federal corruption laws. Has prosecutorial discretion been employed to persecute enemies or shield allies? To answer this question, I develop a model of the interaction between officials contemplating corruption and a prosecutor deciding whether to pursue cases against them. Biased prosecutors will be willing to file weaker cases against political opponents than against allies. Consequently, the model anticipates that in the presence of partisan bias, sentences of prosecuted opponents will tend to be \textit{lower} than those of co-partisans. Employing newly collected data on public corruption prosecutions, I find evidence of partisan bias under both the Bush (II) and Clinton Justice Departments. However, additional evidence suggests that these results may understate the extent of bias under Bush, while overstating it under Clinton.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: partisan bias, public corruption, U.S. Attorneys, Justice Department, Bush administration, Clinton administration

JEL Classification: D72, D73, K42

working papers series


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Date posted: July 22, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Gordon, Sanford C., Assessing Partisan Bias in Federal Public Corruption Prosecutions (April 22, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1166343 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1166343

Contact Information

Sanford C. Gordon (Contact Author)
New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )
19 West 4th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States
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