The political process in the United States can be complicated — and money plays a big part in what happens.
While that’s normal, the ways that a politician obtains money must be legal. Any breach — such as accepting a bribe — is illegal. Any financial impropriety can lead to charges of corruption and even end a person’s political career.
Why lobbying differs from bribery
One clear example of how this can get complicated is when considering lobbying. Groups that lobby political figures will often donate to their campaigns or parties in order to influence the way that those politicians act or vote. This is legal when undertaken properly, and it happens all the time.
For instance, groups that focus on firearms may lobby to get firearms-friendly politicians elected, knowing that those politicians will avoid passing laws that restrict ownership rights. They hope that funding campaigns and careers mean that those politicians will consider what their backers — and their considerable financial contributions — when voting or drafting bills.
This may sound like bribery, and the two are often confused — but they are the same. A bribe is money given over directly to someone to guarantee a very specific action. Lobbyists hope for influence over political figures but are not guaranteed results.
For example, a politician saying she will vote in favor of a specific bill or action if someone will give her $200,000 could constitute bribery. A group lobbying and funding that politician’s campaign with a donation of $200,000 may accomplish the same goal, but it’s not bribery because the politician did not promise to do what they wanted in exchange for money.
Are you facing serious allegations related to corruption or bribery?
Public corruption charges are very serious, as are charges of making or accepting a bribe. If you’re facing charges, be sure you know exactly what legal options you have.