Graft refers to the acquisition of money or position through dishonest means. The word probably comes from the idea that such profit is added to, or grafted onto, legitimate political enterprise. Examples of graft by an office holder include accepting money for political favor and awarding government contracts to firms in which the office holder has an interest.
Some officials place unqualified relatives and friends on the government payroll in exchange for part of their salary or their campaign support.
Graft also means something of value give to, and accepted by, public officials for dishonest or illegal purposes. The practice may also involve corrupt officials directing the fraudulent expenditure of public funds for private benefits.
In order for graft to be present in a transaction, one of the parties must occupy a position of public trust. The word probably reflect the idea that extra or illegal profits are something grafted onto a legitimate transaction.
Graft is usually considered synonymous with "political corruption". In its offensive for, graft merely involves favored treatment or unfairness. It usually extends however to criminal activity such as blackmail, theft, fraud, and swindling. Whatever its form, graft is usually secretive and is almost always regarded as morally repugnant.