18 USC § 201-227 (Chapter 11 Code) Political Corruption, Bribery, Graft, Conflicts of Interest


Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by  private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties.

Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft, and embezzlement. While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking, money laundering, and human trafficking, it is not restricted to these activities.

The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the jurisdiction. For instance, certain political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another. In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over 1 trillion US dollars annually. A state of unrestrained political corruption is known as a kleptocracy, literally meaning "rule by thieves".

This chapter has a variety of sections that may apply to "Political Corruption" below are the possible sections that may apply.

§ 202. Definitions

(a) For the purpose of sections 203, 205, 207, 208, and 209 of this title the term “special Government employee” shall mean an officer or employee of the executive or legislative branch of the United States Government, of any independent agency of the United States or of the District of Columbia, who is retained, designated, appointed, or employed to perform, with or without compensation, for not to exceed one hundred and thirty days during any period of three hundred and sixty-five consecutive days, temporary duties either on a full-time or intermittent basis, a part-time United States commissioner, a part-time United States magistrate judge, or, regardless of the number of days of appointment, an independent counsel appointed under chapter 40 of title 28 and any person appointed by that independent counsel under section 594 (c) of title 28. Notwithstanding the next preceding sentence, every person serving as a part-time local representative of a Member of Congress in the Member’s home district or State shall be classified as a special Government employee. Notwithstanding section 29(c) and (d)  [1] of the Act of August 10, 1956 (70A Stat. 632; 5 U.S.C. 30r(c) and (d)), a Reserve officer of the Armed Forces, or an officer of the National Guard of the United States, unless otherwise an officer or employee of the United States, shall be classified as a special Government employee while on active duty solely for training. A Reserve officer of the Armed Forces or an officer of the National Guard of the United States who is voluntarily serving a period of extended active duty in excess of one hundred and thirty days shall be classified as an officer of the United States within the meaning of section 203 and sections 205 through 209 and 218. A Reserve officer of the Armed Forces or an officer of the National Guard of the United States who is serving involuntarily shall be classified as a special Government employee. The terms “officer or employee” and “special Government employee” as used in sections 203, 205, 207 through 209, and 218, shall not include enlisted members of the Armed Forces.

(b) For the purposes of sections 205 and 207 of this title, the term “official responsibility” means the direct administrative or operating authority, whether intermediate or final, and either exercisable alone or with others, and either personally or through subordinates, to approve, disapprove, or otherwise direct Government action.

(c) Except as otherwise provided in such sections, the terms “officer” and “employee” in sections 203, 205, 207 through 209, and 218 of this title shall not include the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, or a Federal judge.

(d) The term “Member of Congress” in sections 204 and 207 means

(1) a United States Senator; and

(2) a Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the House of Representatives.

(e) As used in this chapter, the term

(1) “executive branch” includes each executive agency as defined in title 5, and any other entity or administrative unit in the executive branch;

(2) “judicial branch” means the Supreme Court of the United States; the United States courts of appeals; the United States district courts; the Court of International Trade; the United States bankruptcy courts; any court created pursuant to article I of the United States Constitution, including the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, the United States Court of Federal Claims, and the United States Tax Court, but not including a court of a territory or possession of the United States; the Federal Judicial Center; and any other agency, office, or entity in the judicial branch; and

(3) “legislative branch” means

(A) the Congress; and

(B) the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, the United States Botanic Garden, the Government Accountability Office, the Government Printing Office, the Library of Congress, the Office of Technology Assessment, the Congressional Budget Office, the United States Capitol Police, and any other agency, entity, office, or commission established in the legislative branch.

Other sections that may apply

§ 201. Bribery of public officials and witnesses

§ 203. Compensation to Members of Congress, officers, and others in matters affecting the Government

§ 204. Practice in United States Court of Federal Claims or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit by Members of Congress

§ 205. Activities of officers and employees in claims against and other matters affecting the Government

§ 206. Exemption of retired officers of the uniformed services

§ 207. Restrictions on former officers, employees, and elected officials of the executive and legislative branches

§ 208. Acts affecting a personal financial interest

§ 209. Salary of Government officials and employees payable only by United States

§ 210. Offer to procure appointive public office

§ 211. Acceptance or solicitation to obtain appointive public office

§ 212. Offer of loan or gratuity to financial institution examiner

§ 213. Acceptance of loan or gratuity by financial institution examiner

§ 214. Offer for procurement of Federal Reserve bank loan and discount of commercial paper

§ 215. Receipt of commissions or gifts for procuring loans

§ 216. Penalties and injunctions

§ 217. Acceptance of consideration for adjustment of farm indebtedness

§ 218. Voiding transactions in violation of chapter; recovery by the United States

§ 219. Officers and employees acting as agents of foreign principals

§ 224. Bribery in sporting contests

§ 225. Continuing financial crimes enterprise

§ 226. Bribery affecting port security

§ 227. Wrongfully influencing a private entity’s employment decisions by a Member of Congress or an officer or employee of the legislative or executive branch

Other Laws in Economic Crimes Defense

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