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When Heads of State are Embroiled in Cases of Serious Crime and Corruption: International Perspectives

  • Open Gov Hub 1110 Vermont Avenue Northwest Suite 500 Washington, DC, 20005 United States (map)

U.S. politics are under increasing strain as multiple investigations of President Trump and his presidential campaign, business associates, and top officials progress. The investigations raise tough questions about foreign involvement in U.S. elections, illicit payments, campaign finance violations, and obstruction of justice.

What can US civil society learn from similar cases around the world? What can democracy defenders do to anticipate the consequences of cases that roil the sense of stability and democracy? How well are our democratic institutions and norms working from a comparative perspective? What should civil society do and anticipate to ensure and protect those norms and institutions in light of lessons learned from around the world?

We invite you to a conversation on June 12 about what happens to a country’s democracy when the head of state is embroiled in investigations into serious crimes and corruption.

Liberal democracy holds institutions such as an independent judiciary and norms such as checks and balances and independent oversight as foundational. Yet the US finds itself in a position where the current Mueller investigation and all the sound and fury surrounding it raise questions about how well these foundation institutions and norms are functioning. There is arguably a current crisis of faith among Americans towards our public institutions. Yet countries around the world have faced similar threats with heads of state linked to or directly facing similar investigations.

Join the Sunlight Foundation, Global Integrity, the Open Gov Hub, and Transparency International for this latest in our Democracy Dialogues discussion series. This discussion will put U.S. democracy experts in dialogue with front-line democracy defenders from Peru, Romania, and South Africa.

International Panelists

Jose Ugaz - Former Board Chair of ransparency International nd prosecutor of Former President Fujimor n eru

Elena Calistru - Head of Funky Citizens oup n Romani

Corruption Watch South Africa

US Discussants

Lisa Gilbert - Public Citizen

Open the Government Coalition

And more perspectives.


Thomas Carothers, senior vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peac

As a result of that dialogue, we hope to generate sharpened insight into what America needs to strengthen faith in our public institutions. Regardless of what the investigations into the Trump campaign and administration may find, the response to these investigations -- from journalists, from activists, and from the administration itself -- is already reshaping America’s sense of itself and its strengths and weaknesses as a democracy.

This event is part of a series of Democracy Dialogues run by the Defending Democracy program - a collaboration of of the Sunlight Foundation, Global Integrity and Open Gov Hub in partnership with Transparency International. The goal of this program is to bolster the efforts of US-focused democracy advocates by supporting them to learn from other countries’ experiences in defending democracies in distress.

Refreshments provided.