Lawmakers have made corruption their business. Campaign contributions for political favors are the norm. This is an offense to the Libertarian principle against fraud — government officials are obligated to work toward the betterment of all equally, so working for a favored few makes the claim to a legitimate government office a fraud.
We have seen officials paid cash. We have seen officials taking junkets with trivial and tenuous connection to government’s business paid by private interests. We have seen officials paid in speaking honoraria. We have seen officials act to benefit those who have provided these compensations.
This government corruption was the major cause of the great depression, the savings and loan crash, the housing bubble and crash, and the current continuing economic crisis. Government officials have been compensated (campaign contributions, junkets, vacations, etc.) for making laws to hide corruption in private industry that enlarges the boom-and-bust ‘business cycle’.
Bribery has been made legal. The solution is to make the bribery illegal.
Of course, any legislator should have the freedom to vote his conscience, and any citizen should have the freedom to contribute to any cause or candidate he favors. This is the logic taken to extreme that keeps the bribery legal. Criminal law properly requires a presumption of innocence, with the burden of proof on an accuser.
But the standard is lower for non-criminal, administrative regulation. It’s legitimate to presume for administrative actions that a quid-pro-quo exists when reciprocal compensations are shown, even though a smoking gun isn’t found. If someone does something for an official, and the official does something for the someone, then without an accusation it’s in the interest of society and democracy for the compensation to the official to be surrendered.
It’s simple statistics to evaluate standard deviations in contributions to an official from various individuals or groups. It’s simple statistics to evaluate standard deviations in benefits to various individuals or groups by officials. There are millions of citizens who can track officials to keep them honest, and these citizens can be motivated to increased good citizenship by sharing in penalties assessed against the evil-doers.
The proper result of the administrative action should be the surrender of any such compensation from the government official’s campaign or personal account.
In an egregious case, a penalty might/should be assessed as a multiple of the contribution. And egregious cases might justify additional penalties against the non-official side of the bribe.
The difficult part is gathering reliable information — requiring reliable information. Again, officials who suppress such information should be penalized the value of the information suppressed, or multiples of such.
Diligent enforcement of such an oversight of legislators, executives or any official would nullify such personal enrichment, leaving officials to either behave or quit and seek profit in the private sector.
Honest citizens must still be allowed to contribute to causes or candidates — as long as they expect nothing in return. Honest officials must still be allowed to execute their offices as they believe is best — as long as they expect nothing in return.