Political Corruption

Oxford Handbook of American Election Law (Eugene Mazo, ed.), forthcoming

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2023-37

17 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2023

See all articles by Michael D. Gilbert

Michael D. Gilbert

University of Virginia School of Law

Deborah Hellman

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: April 21, 2023

Abstract

This chapter studies political corruption and its many relationships to the law of democracy. It begins with bribery laws, which forbid officials from selling official acts. Federal bribery law is circular, reflecting uncertainty and disagreement around the concept of bribery itself. Next, the chapter studies campaign finance regulations, which raise First Amendment concerns but are nevertheless often justified on anti-corruption grounds. Then the chapter examines vote buying, which relates to the secret ballot and the complicated connections between corruption and publicity. The chapter addresses the constitutional dimensions of corruption, including its role in impeachment and the Emoluments Clauses, and it concludes with a discussion of the appearance of corruption, a concern that surfaces in many areas, including judicial recusal and misuse of office. The law of political corruption is often vague, and scholars disagree about the very nature of corruption. This leaves much authority in the hands of the actors, including judges, empowered to define corruption in practice.

Keywords: corruption, appearance of corruption, bribery, campaign finance, vote buying, impeachment, emoluments, secret ballot

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Michael and Hellman, Deborah, Political Corruption (April 21, 2023). Oxford Handbook of American Election Law (Eugene Mazo, ed.), forthcoming, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2023-37, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4425896

Michael Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Deborah Hellman

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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