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Campaign finance reform may be a phrase of Washington coinage, but a new study by the nonprofit Global Integrity suggests that the influence of private money in politics is rampant outside the Beltway, too — in fact, around the world.

That’s the finding of the 2008 Global Integrity Report — scheduled for release tomorrow — which details international governance and corruption trends in 57 countries. The lackadaisical regulation of political financing has ranked as the top problem since Global Integrity began producing its survey three years ago.

Consider what happened in Bulgaria last June: Shady enforcement of party finance regulations led European Union funds intended for development to be misappropriated for use in the incumbent president’s reelection campaign. Meanwhile, in countries such as South Africa, all political donations to private parties are unregulated. (Here in the United States, apart from bans on corporate contributions, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Iowa all adhere to similarly laissez faire rules.)

The full contents of the report, including the first-ever country analyses of Iraq and Somalia, will be released Wednesday morning here.

Due disclosure: Global Integrity was originally a project of the Center for Public Integrity; the group became independent in 2005.

Be sure to keep up to date with the Center’s Twitter feed.

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