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Corrupt Practices Acts

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CORRUPT PRACTICES ACTS. Thq effort to eliminate dishonest, irregular . and criminal methods of influencing public deor lions has resulted in the enactment of various laws to supplement the common law against bribery and corruption (see Beim). Such acts enumerate and ,define the corrupt or illegal practices and fix, penalties for;the awe; Ow usually include bribery in any form, treating, undue influence, intimidation, personation of voters or aiding and abetting in the same, the making of false election returns, the solicita tion of candidates for campaign contributions— save by political committees — the contributing Of campaign funds to other than authorized agents, the making or receiving of campaign contributions under an assumed name, the ren dering of a false declaration of election ex penses, etc. Many laws forbid the acceptance of campaign contributions from certain sources, especially from corporations and from assess ments levied on officeholders in the civil service.

British Acts.— Statutes to prevent bribery and h been passed in 1729, 1809, 1842, , 1868 and 1883. The most important of these are the Corrupt Practices Prevention Act of 1854 (which repealed all previoup legislation and dealt especially with the practice of electoral bribery), the Parlia azentary Elections Act of 1868 and the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act of 1883, which incorporated the act of 1854. The act of 1883 defines and fixes the for the criminal offenses classed as corrupt practices; which consist of bribery of seven different vari eties, treating, undue influence and personation, all of which are punishable by fine or imprison ment and by loss of political rights for seven years. If a candidate for a seat in Parliament be found guilty by a trial court of committing or consenting to corrupt practices, his election is void and he is forever debarred from repre senting the district in Parliament; but should only Ills agent be proved guilty of corrupt pine: tires, the candidate, though personally innocent, may not be elected for the same constituency for a period of seven years. The sections of the act relating to illegal practices as distin guished from ((corrupt)) practices are intended to limit election expenses. For boroughs of 2,000 voters the maximum expenditure is fixed at f350 while 1650 is allowed for counties with the same number of voters with an extra allow ance for each additional thousand in the district The legal expenditures are enumerated, such as printing and meeting halls, etc., and the number

of paid agents is limited. Within 35 days after the election the candidate's agent must file a statement of expenses, certified by the candi date. The corrupt practices law applies equally to parliamentary, municipal, county and parish council elections, and the punishments provided for minor officials correspond with those im posed on parliamentary candidates; a municipal candidate personally guilty of corrupt practice is forever incapable of holding office, but if guilty merely through acts of his agents he is incapacitated only for three years.

' United States Acts.-- The Federal govern ment has tegislated less regarding corrupt prac tices than the States, since the latter control most of the election machinery. In 1907 Con gress passed an act forbidding corporations to contribute to campaign funds in Federal elec tions; on 25 June 1910 an act was approved providing for publicity of political contributions, requiring each political committee to file a finan cial statement within 30 days after a election, and on 19 Aug. 1911 an act amending this act was approved extending its provisions to individual candidates as well as to commit tees. Candidates for the House of Representa fives are allowed to expend a maximum of $5,000 and for the Senate of $10,000. The can didates for the lower house must file with the clerk not less than 10 nor more than 15 days prior to the election (whether it be a primary election, a nominating convention or a general election) a preliminary itemized statement of receipts and their sources and of expenditures and their objects, besides the more complete statement to be filed within 30 days after the election. The act provided that senatorial can didates must file with the secretary of the Senate (not less than five nor more than 10 days prior to the day on which the State legis lature first ballotted for such candidate) a simi lar itemized statement of receipts and expendi tures, but since 1913, when the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, providing for direct election of Senators, was declared in force, senatorial candidates follow the practice of the Representatives.

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