An Examination of the Relationship Between Campaign Finance Corruption and Threats to National Security
Brown, Rachel H.
- In September 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton answered a question posed to her about the social and political consequences of corruption and poor governance in Afghanistan with an unexpected twist. 'Corruption is as big a national security threat as I can imagine,' she stated, proceeding to note that, 'We've never posed it in quite that way before, but this is how I am seeing it'(Clinton, ... read more2009). While the effects of corruption on economic development and, to a lesser extent, political institutions, have long been debated, Clinton's conception of corruption as a threat to the security of the United States demonstrates an evolving understanding of the consequences of corruption and the need for a better understanding of the relationship between corruption and security. My thesis takes a small step towards understanding the connections between corruption and security threats by asking which characteristics of campaign finance-related corruption make it more or less likely to have a strong correlation with security threats. I use a comparative case study of three Central American countries combined with a more in-depth examination of two election cycles in Kenya to explore the relationships between specific measures and types of campaign finance-related corruption and security threats. I focus on the threats of powerful violent criminal organization and domestic political violence, and I test three hypotheses in an attempt to answer whether there is a relationship between political campaign finance-related corruption and these security threats based on the prevalence of corruption, level on which corruption occurs, and the competitive or cooperative nature of that corruption. I conclude that there is a possible positive correlation between the prevalence of corruption and the level of security threat, and identify important variables for future consideration. The study shows that different sets of variables may be required in order to understand how campaign finance-related corruption relates to powerful violent criminal organizations versus how it relates to political violence, and that results may vary across regions. Specifically, it is important to understand in greater detail the level on which corruption occurs as it relates to violent criminal organizations, while levels of inter-elite competition surrounding campaign finance-related corruption appears to have a relationship with domestic political violence. Finally, I draw conclusions about methodological issues regarding the operationalization of my variables and propose solutions to these issues.read less
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