One of the most significant arguments contained in Supreme Court’s recent decisions on campaign finance is the narrow definition of corruption. Chief Justice John Roberts writes that the Court can only concern itself with “quid pro quo” corruption. While he doesn’t define exactly what it is, he makes clear that their definition doesn’t include buying influence, access or ingratiation, and doesn’t consider the possibility of any privileged treatment or “return on investment” as a result. Last week’s cartoon was also on the recent Supreme Court decision.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission continues the legal trend of treating political spending as a First Amendment right, allowing a select few to have disproportionate influence in elections.
This cartoon directly references two things: A Corruption Index released by Transparency International, and a damning article published in the New York Times, outlining how the C.I.A. was dropping off wads of cash each month to the office of President Hamid Karzai, sometimes in plastic shopping bags, as a way to buy influence. The secret cash amounted to tens of millions of dollars, prompting one anonymous American official to say that the U.S. that was the “biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan.”
Aside from highlighting this blatant example of corruption – I think it’s important to address the way subjectivity and framing affects our definition of corruption. Giving money in return for favor in politics is bribery, regardless of the democratic euphemisms used to legitimize it.
See this cartoon and others at The Gabbler!