The Abscam scandal—a sting in which FBI agents posed as Middle Eastern businessmen seeking corrupt favors from lawmakers—resulted in the criminal conviction of seven congressmen. This was a case of the bureaucracy, without direction from the executive branch, investigating and prosecuting corruption in the legislative branch. On their own initiative, members of the bureaucracy should regularly undertake such operations against legislators both within and outside of their jurisdiction. Every elected representative ought to be subjected to multiple entrapment attempts to test his fidelity. As convictions mount, more honest people will run for office, more dishonest people will be dissuaded from seeking office, and the government will be more honestly run.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove