Assessing Partisan Bias in Federal Public Corruption Prosecutions

45 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2008  

Sanford C. Gordon

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

Date Written: 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.

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

JEL Classification: D72, D73, K42

Suggested Citation

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

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

Paper statistics

Downloads
417
Rank
55,814
Abstract Views
2,382