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Lobbying and Bribery

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Lobbying is defined as "the act of trying to directly shape or influence a government official's understanding and position on a public policy issue." (Post, Business and Society 7th ed.) What is the difference between lobbying and bribery?

Whether bribery should be considered unethical or illegal has been debated extensively. Many scholars and business people take the position that bribery should not be treated as unethical. Why is it that the general public considers bribery to be immoral? Use ethical theories or philosophies to explain your answer.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (15 U.S.C. sec. 78) makes it illegal for US companies to pay bribes even if they are in foreign countries. Assuming that this is a case where the FCPA would apply, it helps to look at its definition of a bribe. The FCPA defines a payment that is "meant to influence an official to award or maintain business activity" as illegal. Payments that assist the payer to obtain ministerial actions are not prohibited. What argument could the SLOC members make that the payments made do not fit the definition of an illegal bribe under the FCPA?

What is the appropriate punishment for violation of ethical and legal principles? Should the remedies be limited to expulsion of the members who violated those principles or should the entire community be held responsible? Use ethical principles or theories to answer this question.

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Instead of the response attached that has outdated websites, please see updated version below. I hope this helps and take care.

UPDATED August 7, 2010:

1. Lobbying is defined as "the act of trying to directly shape or influence a government official's understanding and position on a public policy issue." (Post, Business and Society 7th ed.) What is the difference between lobbying and bribery?

Lobbying is considered legal, whereas bribery is not. It seems to be a matter of intent (the intent of lobbying is considered to be in the best interest of society and thus, considered ethical and legal), whereas bribery involves intent to gain an illicit advantage.

Let's look at some definitions of bribery:

- The practice of offering something (usually money) in order to gain an illicit advantage
(wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

- Bribery is the practice of offering professional money or other favors in order to circumvent ethics in a variety of professions. It is a form of corruption and is generally illegal, or at least cause for penalties from professional organisations.
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery)

- Offering or promising anything of value with intent to unlawfully influence a public official, bank employee, officer or employee of the Government, witness, or any common carrier as well as soliciting or accepting such an offer. Soliciting or receiving anything of value in consideration of aiding a person to obtain employment in the US Government. Receiving or soliciting any remuneration, directly or indirectly, in cash or in kind in return for purchasing, ordering, leasing, or recommending to purchase any good, service, or facility.
(www.albany.edu/sourcebook/app11.html)

One article "The Development of International Bribery Law" addresses the historical development of the concept bribery, including the moral and ethical issues and presents many legal cases as well (see (http://www.timmartin.ca/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/Devpt_of_Int_Bribery_Law.pdf).

Given the extensive and lavishness the gift giving, however, an inquiry into the reasonableness and propriety of these ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains the difference between lobbying and bribery, and whether bribery should be considered unethical or illegal. Information and links are provided for addressing the questions on the related topic e.g. ethical theories, bribery and remedies for bribery, etc. Last updated August 7, 2010. This solution is 1,182 words.

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Bribery

You work for the city of Bigtown's legal department. Bigtown has been trying for years to attract more convention business, but it has been unsuccessful to date. The new mayor was voted in on the tagline, "I'll make Bigtown the place to see and be seen."
It's been six months since the mayor's inauguration, but tourism is, if anything, worse than before. The mayor is desperate and talking about offering contracts for city work in exchange for convention business. Your boss (the city's counsel) needs to convince the mayor that this strategy is unethical and possibly illegal. She asks you to research the Salt Lake City Olympics scandal and address specific issues that link to Bigtown's situation.

The Big Business of the Olympics and Bribery

LEAD STORY-DATELINE: The Washington Post, January 15, 1999.
Salt Lake City and the state of Utah are considered synonymous with the Mormon Church and the morality that flows from religious pursuits. A recent bribery scandal relating to Salt Lake City's successful bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics casts a cloud over the city and state.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) had assigned individual members to lobby members of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to select Salt Lake City as the 2002 Winter Olympics' site. Since November 1998, there have been allegations that the members of the SLOC lobbied by making gifts to certain influential IOC members and their families. The allegations are that the SLOC members gave scholarships, free medical care, guns and other expensive gifts valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars to visiting IOC members. IOC rules limit members to gifts with a maximum value of $150. One influential IOC member is alleged to have received free medical treatment for hepatitis and financed land investment deals for one SLOC member.
The scandal has resulted in investigations by a several agencies, including the federal Department of Justice, the International Olympics Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and an ethics panel for Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). The Utah legislature had created a committee to oversee the Olympics because of the approximately $1.4 billion initial costs to be incurred by Utah and the State's obligation to pay any shortfall. That committee has entered the fray and demanded financial accounting from the SLOC. The state of Utah projected receipt of three billion dollars in revenues from hosting the games.
IOC members investigating the scandal have said that punishment may range from requiring an apology to censure to expulsion depending on the results of its investigation. Several SLOC members including president Frank Joklik and vice president Dave Johnson, resigned (during the investigation process).

Assignment

Part A - Research the Salt Lake City Olympics scandal and address specific issues that link to Bigtown's situation.

Part B - Answer the questions below.

1. Lobbying is defined as "the act of trying to directly shape or influence a government official's understanding and position on a public policy issue." (Post, Business and Society 7th ed.) What is the difference between lobbying and bribery?

2. Whether bribery should be considered unethical or illegal has been debated extensively. Many scholars and businesspeople take the position that bribery should not be treated as unethical. Why is it that the general public considers bribery to be immoral? Use ethical theories or philosophies to explain your answer.

3. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (15 U.S.C. sec. 78) makes it illegal for US companies to pay bribes even if they are in foreign countries. Assuming that this is a case where the FCPA would apply, it helps to look at its definition of a bribe. The FCPA defines a payment that is "meant to influence an official to award or maintain business activity" as illegal. Payments that assist the payer to obtain ministerial actions are not prohibited. What argument could the SLOC members make that the payments made do not fit the definition of an illegal bribe under the FCPA?

4. What is the appropriate punishment for violation of ethical and legal principles? Should the remedies be limited to expulsion of the members who violated those principles or should the entire community be held responsible? Use ethical principles or theories to answer this question.

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