What comes to mind when one considers the act of bribery? Like many people, a plethora of negative actions and ideas probably come to mind. Possibilities that may come to mind are things like, corruption, deceit, fraud, schemes, and other illicit activity or transactions. This is where an important question arises. What, then, is the difference between bribery and corporate political campaign funding? It is plain to see that the answer ranges somewhere between nothing and very little. In today’s political world democracy is for sale.
For starters, take a look at what this corporate political campaign funding really is. This type of funding is, as the name suggests, money provided to a campaign from a corporation with the expectation that the additional money will assist the candidate in winning. Although this may seem like a simple, benign transaction, it is not all that straightforward and thoughtless. Funding of this caliber is a classic example of one hand washing the other; there is absolutely no reason to believe that these immense corporations are receiving nothing in return for the large sums of money that they are donating. One could look as these corporate “donations” as more of an investment than a contribution since they are sending money to someone else in hopes that they will receive benefits in return.
The official definition of bribery is as follows: “The act of accepting or offering something of value, such as money, in return for a certain action or influence on a government official.” Now, looking back at the first question, what is the difference between bribery and corporate political campaign spending? The answer, at this point, should seem blatantly obvious; nothing. Bribery is an extremely serious offence in America; offenders, who are found guilty in a political leader setting, are penalized with a fine in the amount of three times the value of the bribe, along with an up to fifteen year prison sentence. So, why are Americans and American companies allowed to invest in an election? Why are they legal allowed to bribe politicians right in front of us? Why are they allowed to buy democracy? And, most importantly, why is democracy even for sale?
In America, there exists an organization called the Federal Election Commission (FEC). They are in charge of maintaining federal campaign finance laws. The three main objectives covered by finance laws are “public disclosure of funds raised and spent to influence federal elections, restrictions on contributions and expenditures made to influence federal elections, and the public financing of Presidential campaigns.” Corporations donating money on behalf of a candidate is a relatively new practice; originally this type of backing was strictly forbidden by these finance laws. But, in 2010, after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee ruling of the Supreme Court, these laws were altered. This allowed corporation and labor unions to donate money to political campaigns in...