White House is ‘most corrupt institution in US’: Survey

Almost half of Americans believe that US has become more corrupt, a sharp increase over last year, according to a new report based on research carried out on behalf of  Transparency International, the Berlin-based non-profit organisation which tracks and monitors corruption around the world.

According to the report, the Donald Trump-led White House is “the most corrupt government institution” in the US, followed, in order, by members of Congress, government officials generally, and “business executives”.

Americans, the Transparency International researchers note, have significantly lost faith in the idea that their government is a force in fighting corruption, compared to last year.

According to the report, called the  US Corruption Barometer 2017, 44% of Americans believe that corruption is pervasive in the White House, up from 36% in 2016.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed, meanwhile, said they believed that the level of corruption in the US had risen in the past twelve months, up from 34% who said the same in January 2016.

Almost 7 out of 10 people said they believed the government was failing to fight corruption, up from half in 2016.  Fifty-five percent cited “fear of retaliation” as the main reason not to report corruption, up from 31% in 2016.

Close to a third of the African Americans surveyed, meanwhile, said they saw the police as “highly corrupt”, compared to a fifth across the survey overall.

Washington scores badly

In both 2016, the Office of the President, members of Congress and government officials were seen by those interviewed by Transparency International as the most corrupt elements in US society.  This year, the data shows, the White House overtook Congress in the ranking.

Local government fared better than federal institutions, indicating, Transparency International noted, that people “place more trust in their representatives closer to home”.

And “judges are seen as the least corrupt of the nine groups we asked about”, the organisation noted, in a summary of its findings.

Almost three out of four, or 74%, said they believe “ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption”, though they have changed their views on how this can best be done. About a fifth of all respondents said the most effective strategy would be reporting corruption.

Recommendations

The report’s authors made a number of recommendations based on the findings. These include that US government should:

  • address transparency in political spending
  • stop “the unchecked exchange of personnel among corporations, lobbyists and our elected and high-level government officials”
  • “reinforce the independence and oversight capabilities of the Office of Government Ethics
  • Increase access to information about the government, “as a means to empower the public to fight corruption”.

The report was carried out on behalf of Transparency International by Efficience3, which made use of computer-assisted telephone interviews of some 1,005 individuals during October and November of this year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ridhima Sharma
Ridhima Sharma is Correspondent for InternationaInvestment. She speaks German and is also DACH Correspondent for InvestmentEurope. She has more than 8 years of experience in the media industry. Before joining us, she was working in India and covering automotive and lifestyle sectors. Over the years many of her stories have been published in various magazines across India.

Read more from Ridhima Sharma

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