Sen. Ben Cardin Promotes Bipartisan Bill That Would Enhance CIPE’s Corruption Response Efforts

07.13.2021 | Richard Tucker

CIPE leads a rapid response program that helps promote anti-corruption efforts in countries experiencing windows of opportunity. Since President Joseph Biden’s administration has set “countering corruption as a core United States national security interest,” CIPE’s experience and leadership on this issue is becoming more important.

In Congress, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is playing an instrumental role in crafting anti-corruption legislation. Along with Republican Senator Roger Wicker, he co-sponsors the bi-partisan CROOK Act. A key feature of the legislation would be the creation of an anti-corruption action fund, a formal mechanism to deliver rapid responses to countries with newly democratic governments committed to anti-corruption reform.

During a recent event held by CIPE, Cardin explained the need for his bill. “Authoritarian regimes need corruption in order to survive. And now they’re exporting it as part of their strategy to bring down democratic states.” The CROOK Act would fund rapid response programs by employing money collected as penalties from those who are guilty of corruption.

It sets up an anti-corruption action fund by “imposing a $5 million surcharge on any award over $50 million of criminal fines or penalties. So it allows those that are guilty of participating in corruption to take some of those revenues, to fight corrupt systems,” Cardin explained.

Rapid response initiatives are a fast-growing area of interest to anti-corruption practitioners generally. CIPE is a leader in this field, having launched its first rapid response project in 2017 in The Gambia. CIPE is also currently operating similar programs in Armenia, Ecuador, and Sudan.

Rapid response is crucial, but it’s not the only way CIPE is battling corruption. CIPE Executive Director Andrew Wilson talked at the event about the organization’s holistic approach. “In addition to our field work CIPE also convenes a consortium of practitioners, donors, and local activists here in Washington every quarter for a blunt evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t,” he explained. “This summer, we’re launching a new website to better serve the rapid response community writ large, as well as a podcast series from rapid response practitioners globally.”

CIPE’s Anti-Corruption & Governance Center is planning to roll out a new Web site soon. It will provide more details, including examples of successful rapid response interventions against corruption.