11/12/2012 09:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Campaign Ends, But the Corruption Continues


What's the best time to confront corruption?

For years, we've seen a lot of activity and attention focused on the "front half" of the political process -- the period when tomorrow's officeholders are still today's candidates, awash in campaign cash.

Campaign finance reform was yesterday's hot issue for mavericky bipartisans (remember McCain-Feingold)? But then came Citizens United -- and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, Sheldon Adelson, and the era of the Super PACs.

It all looked like a recipe for an election-year game-changer. Unfortunately for hopeful Republicans, however, it was a bust. Rove, Adelson and other big-money players dumped a combined hundreds of millions of dollars into Election '12, only to go to sleep late Tuesday night having lost not just big but huge.

In an important way, the campaign finance issue was the dog that didn't bark. Of course, there's still plenty of room for corruption. But consider that Americans concerned about the corrupting confluence of money and power in Washington can do the most good by focusing on the "back half" of the political process -- the period when candidates become officeholders, ex-officeholders, consultants, and, as the revolving door whirls, officeholders again.

That's what I'm talking about on HuffPost Live with HuffPost Economics Reporter Bonnie Kavoussi and three more sharp guests: Abigail Field, blogger at Reality Check; David Donnelly, the Executive Director of the Public Campaign Action Fund; and Hillary Lehr, the Campaign Director of Elect Democracy at Global Exchange.

Post-election corruption is a bipartisan problem fueled by lobbying and greased by cash. It can be hard to tighten the regulatory screws in an environment where just about everyone's in on the game. But there's no reason to despair. The power of the ballot can still be used to hold officeholders accountable. And at a time when establishmentarian bankrollers have to eat some crow, there's reason to think grassroots partisans of both parties can get some long-overdue leverage against those who use election as a path to personal fortune and relative ease.