The US is not corrupt. When you compare large economic blocks, the US does very well. Japan is the least corrupt, then the US, then the European Union.

The problem with partisanship is that it leads to false accusations of corruption. In the long-run, this harms the public’s trust in government. It also results in prosecutorial abuse and political vendettas to ruin individual’s lives.

I am not saying there is no corruption.

Normally, we discover a crime, then search the evidence to find who was guilty. This is the norm for a reason. One of the greatest abuses of a prosecutor is to select an individual, then search for a crime. Nearly all people are guilty of at least a misdemeanor. Many innocent men panic and commit a minor crime in the course of the investigation. A prosecutor can indict an individuals without much evidence, then harass and destroy the individual in the course of the trial.

Congress is the ultimate prosecutor in this country. It also serves as the highest court – allowing it to investigate and impeach members of the other branches of government.

Real corruption is detected and prosecuted by the Federal authorities. The FBI investigated Representatives William Jefferson and Randy Cunningham and collected evidence to prove the case. I am all for this accountability.

What is intolerable is the empty accusations of corruption in the absence of a known crime. In 1998, the Republican Congress spent half its time with bogus investigations. They went on a fishing trip to find any hint of corruption to take down the President they hated. In they end, they managed to find a perjury, but no original crimes. Now, in 2007, the Democrats are doing the same. Literally. It is abuse born out of irrational partisanship.

The Democrats have not discovered a crime committed by the Bush Administration. Nor have they made such an accusation. They want full access to exclusive executive branch material to sort through. In short, they selected the men they want to destroy, and now they will search for anything that will do so. If they cannot find something that will legally stick, they will manufacture a public scandal.

What’s really going on?

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson addressed the responsibility of prosecutors:

If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm—in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views, or being personally obnoxious to or in the way of the prosecutor himself.

In times of fear or hysteria political, racial, religious, social, and economic groups, often from the best of motives, cry for the scalps of individuals or groups because they do not like their views.

“Special Prosecutors” are a related issue. They are probably not Constitutional. At any rate, they lack accountability. Congress assigns them a target, and the prosecutor is expected to dig up something. How often will a special prosecutor come back and say there was no crime in the first place?

This has grown to the point where it is routine to accuse members of the other party of corruption without evidence of a crime.

While there are short-term benefits to bogus accusations, it seems to backfire. The Republican Congress lost most of its support in 1998, and the Democratic Congress today has the lowest level of support in polling history. We should oppose this abuse on principle.

Then again, there is an upside to this abuse. Congress is passing no laws at all. They waste all their time with phony investigations and hot air, just like in 1998.