Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin's Snuff Box to Citizens United
by Zephyr Teachout
Harvard University Press, 2014. 376 pp. Non-fiction
Written as a response to recent Supreme Court decisions, the author describes and evaluates how leading political and legal figures have thought of and addressed the problem of corruption since the founding of the country. Those of us who follow current events might remember Zephyr Teachout (such an awesome name!) for her unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial primary run in New York. In this fascinating book, she thoughtfully and concisely argues that corruption should be regarded as greater and more complex issue than the quid pro quo exchange of money for favorable political acts as recent judicial decision would narrowly define it. Rather, the author contends that gifts, donations or other remunerative exchanges should be closely scrutinized and regulated with a more realistic framework and understanding of how money can distort political decision making.