51 Duquesne Law Review 263

Authors: M. Patrick Yingling

Type: Articles Published

“A Prince who wishes to remain in power is often forced to be other than good. When the group whose support he deems vital to his survival is corrupt – be it the common people, the soldiers, or the nobility – he must follow their inclinations in order to satisfy them. In such a case, good deeds become his enemies.”
– Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

The history of government corruption is as old as the history of government itself. Corruption in the public sector, however, is not an unvarying phenomenon; it exists in different forms around the world. This article is concerned with two such forms: "conventional corruption" and "unconventional corruption."

Conventional corruption occurs when government officials illegally abuse public office for private gain. Illegal quid pro quo transactions, including acts of bribery, are examples of conventional corruption. In contrast, unconventional corruption occurs when elected officials make decisions without regard for the public interest (but without engaging in a quid pro quo transaction) for purposes of campaign finance. Unconventional corruption is thus undertaken with the purpose of serving a relatively small group of political funders and spenders, rather than the people. 

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