In a previous article, “Does Non-Local Money Corrupt Members of Congress?”, I expose the controlling influence that individual campaign contributors from outside the district exercise over candidates for congressional office.
This controlling influence over their official actions, based on giving and receiving something of value, serves to affiliate the congressional representative with the contributor from outside their constituency.
We can now see how much these contributions align with the definitions of bribery.
In United States v. Sun Diamond Growers, Justice Scalia writes, “Bribery requires intent 'to influence' an official act … there must be a quid pro quo — a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act.”
This is eerily similar to other definitions.
The Federal Election Commission defines: A contribution is anything of value given, loaned or advanced to influence a federal election.
52 USC 30101 section (8)(A)(i) defines a campaign contribution as “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.”
Do these demonstrate that there is a common thread between campaign contributions and bribery: something of value or money given to officials to influence an election, conduct, behavior, or voting?
Colonel Mason presented on June 6, 1787, (Anti-Federalist Papers): “The requisites in actual representation are that the representatives should sympathize with their constituents…”
Associate Justice Bryon White in McCormick v. United States, (1991) wrote: “Serving constituents and supporting legislation that will benefit the district and individuals and groups therein is the everyday business of a legislator.”
Associate Justice William Brennan, delivering the opinion of the Court in Kirkpatrick v. Preisler (1969), wrote: “Equal representation for equal numbers of people is a principle designed to prevent debasement of voting power and diminution of access to elected representatives,” clearly linking the electorates representation to their vote.
Campaign contributions from outside of the electorate also serve as a debasement of the influence of the constituents whilst abridging their voting power and access to their elected representatives in the legislative process.
We must take measures to wrestle the affiliation and controlling influence over the electorate’s congressional representation by the external campaign contributors and restore this affiliation and control to the electorate.
In “Without term limits, politicians are beholden to party, not people” for The Hill, 3 years ago, I discussed how term limits would “insure that the issues of the constituents are at the forefront.” But more is required to eradicate the external individual campaign contributors from abridging our constitutional right of legislative representation guaranteed by our vote. To restore affiliation with a controlling influence to the electorate over their congressional representation, the bribes thinly veiled as campaign contributions from non-constituents must be curtailed.
Voters across the country need to bring suit against all candidates for their congressional representative positions, petitioning the courts to bar these candidates from accepting individual campaign contributions from all but their electorate because it abridges the constituent’s constitutional right to representation guaranteed by a vote.
Eradicating the affiliation and controlling influence of our representation with contributions from outside of the district electorate, which align with the definitions of bribes, would ensure representatives “sympathize with their constituents,” support “legislation that will benefit the district” and “prevent debasement of voting power and diminution of access to elected representatives.”
John M. DeMaggio retired after 30 years of service as a Captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Forensic Science from John Jay College and a Master’s of Science from Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. Privately consulting in counterterrorism, forensic science, and investigations, he also conducts international counterterrorism training, having retired as a Special Agent in Charge and serving as Co-chairman, Investigative Support and Forensic Subgroup, TSWG, developing interagency counterterrorism technology. He is also an op-ed contributor for The Hill. He previously published “Mitigation of Terrorist Effects on Victims’ Motivation” in U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Center Colloquium. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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