4 Types of Political Corruption

Political corruption is one of the most notable crimes of the modern era. Cases of unscrupulous politicians and the abuse of power are surprisingly common. The following list explains some of the most common types of political corruption that can occur in all levels of government.

What Is Political Corruption?

Any action that circumvents the established rules for conducting government business may be considered political corruption. In the American system of government, citizens cast votes for the candidate that they believe will most reliably accomplish the business of governance. This system implies a high amount of trust between elected officials and their constituents.

Any official that uses the power of an elected political office for personal gain or for a personal agenda is abusing the trust of that office. Such actions are considered political corruption.

Types of Political Corruption

1) Payoffs and Bribes – Bribery may be one of the most common types of political corruption. By definition, bribery is the act of giving money, goods or services to an official in exchange for favorable treatment.

For example, a local building contractor may pay thousands of dollars to a city council member to be the first choice for a permit to begin a new development contract.

2) Graft and Embezzlement – Some elected officials are tasked with the oversight of large sums of money. This money may be earmarked for local projects like building renovation or development contracts. If the official overseeing these projects diverts some of that money into their personal accounts, they have committed an act of embezzlement.

This activity is also known as “graft.” It can occur anytime an official chooses to use funds owned by another person or group for their own personal benefit.

3) Blackmail and Extortion – Political offices can provide their officials with a great deal of power. When an official uses their power and influence to threaten another person into behaving a certain way, the official is committing political extortion.

Political blackmail is a related crime. This type of corruption can occur when an elected representative threatens to reveal incriminating information about someone in order to coerce that person into cooperating with them.

4) Preferential Treatment – Elected representatives are expected to exercise fairness and discretion when issuing appointments for jobs, contracts and other benefits. Preferential treatment is a type of political corruption that occurs when an official lets their appointments be influenced by inappropriate or illegal factors.

One type of preferential treatment is known as nepotism. This is the practice of giving appointments to family members, rather than basing appointments on the actual qualifications of the appointees. Another type of preferential treatment, known as patronage, occurs when an official makes appointments in exchange for votes, payoffs or other benefits.

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