The Pervasive corruption in the US-Transparency International
London, August 25, 2018 (AltAfrica)-This week has seen two big developments in the corruption scandal involving US President, Donald Trump.
Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of fraud. On the same day his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to fraud and campaign finance violations.
The same day a guilty verdict arrived in the case of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations. Photograph: AP
Manafort lied to banks to get millions of dollars in personal loans and hid millions in earnings from the US tax agency. He hid this money through setting up anonymous companies. These companies received payments from Ukrainian businessmen and paid them into Manafort’s personal bank accounts as if they were loans rather than income.
Anonymous companies hide the identity of their owners, making it hard to connect them with criminal activity. They are a common tool for laundering money and paying bribes, and Transparency International is pressuring governments to stop them.
Cohen admitted secretly paying two women during the 2016 presidential election campaign to stay quiet about their relationships with Trump. He claimed that Trump instructed himto make the payments, in violation of campaign finance laws.
These convictions led to renewed calls from opposition politicians to end corruption in US politics. Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed legislation to crack down on lobbying, stop people moving back and forth between elected government positions and corporate jobs, and force presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns. Warren said: “Corruption is a form of public cancer, and Washington’s got it bad.”
Corruption is a systemic problem and Americans think it’s getting worse. No matter which party tackles it, corruption must be removed from all aspects US society
Alternativeafrica.com reproduces below a survey findings of Transparency International on how deep corruption is in America
The US faces a wide range of domestic challenges related to the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, which is Transparency International’s definition of corruption.
Key issues include the influence of wealthy individuals over government; “pay to play” politics and the revolving doors between elected government office, for-profit companies, and professional associations; and the abuse of the US financial system by corrupt foreign kleptocrats and local elites.
The current US president was elected on a promise of cleaning up American politics and making government work better for those who feel their interests have been neglected by political elites.
Yet, rather than feeling better about progress in the fight against corruption over the past year, a clear majority of people in America now say that things have become worse. Nearly six in ten people now say that the level of corruption has risen in the past twelve months, up from around a third who said the same in January 2016.
A new survey by Transparency International, the US Corruption Barometer 2017, was carried out in October and November 2017. It shows that the US government and some key institutions of power still have a long way to go to win back citizens’ trust.
The results show:
- 44 per cent of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36 per cent in 2016.
- Almost 7 out of 10 people believe the government is failing to fight corruption, up from half in 2016.
- Close to a third of African-Americans surveyed see the police as highly corrupt, compared to a fifth across the survey overall.
- 55 per cent gave fear of retaliation as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31 per cent in 2016.
- 74 per cent said ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT SEEN AS MOST CORRUPT
The survey asked about the degree of corruption in nine influential groups. These included the national government (the president’s office, members of congress, government officials), public officials who work at the service level (tax officials, the police, judges, local officials), and those who are not part of government but who often wield strong influence (business executives, religious leaders).
Of these categories, government institutions and officials in Washington are perceived to be the most corrupt in the country. The results show that 44 per cent of Americans now say that most or all of those in the Office of the President are corrupt, up from 36 per cent who said the same last year.
Additionally, many people hold an unfavourable view of big business. Almost a third of people in the United States think that most or all business executives are corrupt.
In comparison, judges are seen to be the cleanest, with just 16 per cent thinking that they are highly corrupt.
A higher proportion of African-Americans surveyed view the police as highly corrupt: 31 per cent, versus an average of 20 per cent across all those surveyed.
WEAKER GOVERNMENT EFFORTS TO STOP CORRUPTION
The findings also reveal that people are now more critical of government efforts to fight corruption. From just over half in 2016, nearly seven in ten people in the United States now say that the government is doing a bad job at combatting corruption within its own institutions – this is despite widespread commitments to clean up government.
VOTING STILL THE MOST EFFECTIVE ACTION PEOPLE CAN TAKE
At the same time, the survey reveals that despite increased concerns about the level of corruption, many people feel empowered to make a difference, demonstrating that citizens can engage with the issue.
When we asked what actions would be most effective at fighting corruption, using the ballot box came out top. Twenty-eight per cent said that voting for a clean candidate or a party committed to fighting corruption is the most effective thing they could do. However, this figure has declined from 34 per cent in 2016.
There has been a slight increase in the proportion of people saying that some form of direct action away from the ballot box would be most effective – speaking out on social media, joining a protest march, joining an anti-corruption organisation, signing a petition, talking to friends or relatives, or boycotting a business. Collectively, a quarter of people in the United States now think these are the most effective things they can do, up from 17 per cent in 2016.
A further 21 per cent said that reporting corruption was the most effective solution.
FEAR OF RETALIATION PREVENTS MORE PEOPLE FROM REPORTING CORRUPTION
In reality, however, many people don’t come forward to report corruption when they see or experience it. When we asked why that might be, Americans now overwhelmingly say it is because they are afraid of suffering retaliation as a result. Over half of people (55 per cent) cited this as the main reason more people don’t come forward: a substantial increase since 2016, when only 31 per cent said the same.