More on Political Prosecutions

Here's TPM Muckraker's summary of report by Profs. Donald Shields and John Cragan on the very partisan tilt to Bush appointees' corruption investigations. (This is the report that got mentioned in Paul Kurgman's op-ed today):

A study of reported federal investigations of elected officials and candidates shows that the Bush administration’s Justice Department pursues Democrats far more than Republicans. 79 percent of elected officials and candidates who’ve faced a federal investigation (a total of 379) between 2001 and 2006 were Democrats, the study found – only 18 percent were Republicans. During that period, Democrats made up 50 percent of elected officeholders and office seekers during the time period, and 41 percent were Republicans during that period, according to the study.

It is pretty damning to learn that the US Attorneys who were not fired — presumably because they were more pliable than the Gonzales Eight — were investigating seven Democratic candidates and office-holders for every Republican, but even so, I wish I had a link to the paper because there's a lot more I'd like to know.

How did relative investigation rates compare in previous administrations of both parties?

How do the conviction rates of investigated Dems and Reps today compare with each other and with historical rates?

Armed with these facts, I could figure out whether

(A) the investigation-to-conviction rate for Democrats was as high as for Republicans, suggesting that so many officials in both parties are corrupt that this is a case of political opportunism in a target-rich environment (which would be bad), or

(B) the investigation-to-conviction rate for Democrats was much lower than for Republicans, meaning that honest people were subject to bogus investigations concocted for political gain (which would be much worse). Ditto for historical comparisons.

Plus, if the investigation-to-conviction rate should prove to be lower for Republicans than historically, it suggests that the investigations into Republican wrongdoing were either mis-aimed or mis-handled, for I think it stretches credulity to suggest that today's GOP is less corrupt than yesterday's.

But all this is speculation without more data.

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One Response to More on Political Prosecutions

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    In light of A and B, is your conviction that Democrats aren’t more corrupt than Republicans even falsifiable? You’d certainly seize on a lower conviction rate for Democrats as proof that this is a witch hunt… I don’t even like Democrats, and I’d accept that as proof.

    Personally, I find that 8-1 ratio rather incredible, (In a literal sense of not being credible.) but I’m dumbfounded by the decision of the people doing the study not to bother collecting the information, (Conviction rates, records of past administrations…) necessary to actually distinguish political profiling from Democrats simply being more corrupt. Is this another application of the “Disparate outcomes by themselves are proof of discrimination!” principle Democrats apply to racial matters?

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