Americans believe that Russia is a corrupt country where everyone from the president to regional governors to government officials are flourishing on bribes. Russia has developed corruption into a “fine art,” says a book titled “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?” written by the University of Miami professor Karen Dawisha.

U.S. As Corrupt As Russia, Says Former NSA Exec

U.S. fares far better than Russia on Corruption Perceptions Index

In the absence of an efficient federal system, regional governors in Russia rule like mobsters. Moscow is also allegedly involved in the massive FIFA scandal. Americans and Europeans believe corruption in Russia is so widespread that when they imposed sanctions against Moscow following the annexation of Crimea, they also targeted “friends of Vladimir Putin” and rich oligarchs.

John McCain has said in the past that Vladimir Putin rules by “corruption, repression, and violence.” If you take a look at the Corruption Perceptions Index, the United States in ranked 17th while Russia comes at a distant 136th spot. Does that really mean the U.S. is far less corrupt than Russia? Probably not, says Jerome Israel, a former senior executive at NSA and the FBI.

Jerome said in a column published in The Baltimore Sun that the legislation and behavior of the U.S. political class would open your eyes that the claims against Russia are hypocritical. For instance, last year’s Cromnibus bill allows banks to undertake extremely risky investments. And if the banks suffer a huge loss, the American taxpayer gets the bill. Jerome says Congress has sold out the little guy to favor the K-Street lobbyists.

Contrary to Russia, U.S. specializes in ‘soft bribes’

Another example is the trade pact currently under consideration by Congress. Details of the legislation are classified, and Americans don’t know what’s in it. Even a large number of lawmakers in Congress haven’t read it. This is Soviet-style of lawmaking, says Jerome Israel.

Recently, CNN reported that at least 78 members of Congress have their family members as federally registered lobbyists. According to congressional watchdog Legistrom, these lobbyists have lobbied contracts worth over $2 billion. While corruption and bribery are prevalent in Russia, the U.S. specializes in “soft bribes.” It’s like you take care of the lawmakers’ families and they will take good care of you. These “pay-to-play” schemes make it hard to understand how American politicians are better than their Russian counterparts.