The case study is about Robert Torricelli, New Jersey’s retired senator. Robert Torricelli raised ethical questions when he retired during senator campaigns. He accepted campaign funds from one person, contrary to the campaign’s rules. An individual is allowed to fund a candidate, but the sum is limited to a maximum of $2,600. The campaign’s rules specifically state that many people can contribute to the campaign. These people are called ‘bundles’. Robert Torricelli decided to spend the millions he got from his campaign on lobbying practice. He did not violate any rules regarding the use of campaign money. He used much money to finance other politicians, who were campaigning. He raised ethical questions, when the politicians he was funding had influence on his business interests. It shows that his motives in funding them were for personal reasons, particularly for his business. However, his treasurer disputed this fact saying that he shared the same policy goals with them.
Despite this claim by his treasurer, he set up private meetings with the politicians he funded to discuss on matters regarding his business. In this respect, he held one meeting, in which he sought to change a provision of the law that restricted his business partner from conducting his business. In addition, his contribution in campaigns led to placing people of his choosing in the board of trustees in the retirement system. Torricelli influenced the development of the bill by creating a loophole to enable his business partner to operate in the market.
Robert Torricelli did not violate the rules that respect the campaign funds. When critically investigating transactions that he conducted, Robert Torricelli used campaign funds as a means to an end and that is his business. Contributors to any campaign expect that their money go into campaigning and not for personal expenses. Lobbying business is a very lucrative business, and Mr. Torricelli got more value for his money when he started it (Bardes, 2010).
The goal of contributing to any campaign is for social welfare and not for personal use. There is a gap in the procedures regarding the use of campaign money and, therefore, there should be more enforcement on current regulations on returning funds to contributors once a politician has retired. The case of Torricelli portrays major corruption and it has led to people losing trust in the state. Key ethical concerns that he raised were the following: he funded politicians who had influence on his business with a total of $65,000 of his remaining money. Therefore, he secured a proper foundation for his business by contributing to these politicians.
Torricelli did not fulfill the purpose of his contributors when he made the decision to fund those campaigns. His interest was his business to thrive in the future. It is an evidence of corruption. Political campaign watchdogs admit that Torricelli did not violate any campaign rules. He manipulated the fact that the rules had loopholes and achieved his goals. Note that Torricelli’s case is a case of revolving door. He left office and started a lobbying practice. It is a very lucrative business. When such incidences take place accompanied by corruption practices, people start losing trust in the government (Dalotto, 2010). Besides people losing their trust, contributors of such campaigns get disappointed on the use of their money.
This case raises many ethical questions, especially on the manipulation of rules to meet a personal goal. These questions are not legally binding such that the one can go through the legal process. As much as Torricelli did not violate any specific campaign laws at the time, he did not meet the intentions of his contributors.
The case of Torricelli led to major changes in the rules that govern campaign financing. Formulation of current rules did not necessarily limit the use of campaign funds by retired politicians; they rather regulate the return of the funds to the contributors (Santos, 2006). Therefore, it repairs the revolving door. Rules initially prohibited retired politicians or all politicians from using funds for personal business. Torricelli found a way to manipulate the rules to meet his objectives. There should be more severe limits on the use of leftover campaign funds. Currently lobbying firms disclose vital information about the lobby firms that exist, the amount they charge, and for which people they offer their services. It is a step forward at being transparent.
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Recommendations to curb cases of corruption in the future include cooling-off periods. It will help politicians to have some time off the limelight. Six months should be adequate for retired politicians to go home to their constituents. They should utilize time well to decide if they will go back to the political field or if they will seek employment in the public or private sector (Bardes, 2010).
A time limit should be set that restricts politicians from accepting employment in the private sector. It will restrict them from using leftover funds in private interests. They should spend this time on settling bills and expenses that they incurred during campaigns. These expenses should be those that they did not pay off during their campaign. It is the reason campaign committees continue operating long after the campaigns are over. In addition, there should be restrictions relating to re-employment into the public sector. Just as before re-election, politicians wait for some time to start fresh campaigns. They should take time off from any employment into the public sector. A period of one year is recommendable.
The best option, however, is for them to return the leftover money to the contributors. In the case that it is impossible, they should give the money to their political parties. They should give it back after settling the expenses incurred during campaigns and pay those who worked for them during the campaigns. This recommendation will seek to rid them of the campaign leftover funds (Clayton, 2005).
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