But for Jimmy Carter defeating Gerald Ford in the 1976 election, there might not have been a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – at least when it was enacted or in the form we known it today. As highlighted in my article “The Story of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” the Ford administration favored a disclosure approach to remedy the foreign corporate payments problem discovered in the mid-1970’s whereas the newly elected Carter administration (as well as certain key Congressional leaders) favored a criminalization approach.
The criminalization approach won out and in signing the FCPA in December 1977 President Carter stated:
“During my campaign for the Presidency, I repeatedly stressed the need for tough legislation to prohibit corporate bribery. [The Act] provides that necessary sanction. I share Congress’s belief that bribery is ethically repugnant and competitively unnecessary. Corrupt practices between corporations and public officials overseas undermine the integrity and stability of governments and harm our relations with other countries. Recent revelations of widespread overseas bribery have eroded public confidence in our basic institutions.”
Last week at a public forum, President Carter called out a form of bribery.
According to this Washington Post report, President Carter stated as follows concerning unchecked political contributions in the U.S.
“It’s legal bribery of candidates. And that repayment may be in the form of an ambassadorship to someone who has raised three or four hundred thousand dollars to help a candidate get elected.”
When President Carter spoke out about a certain form of bribery approximately 35 years ago we listened and the FCPA was praised. How will we react to President Carter speaking out about another form of bribery?