Politicians can do a lot of favors for people, so long as they don’t cross over the legal line. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision means that line has to be drawn quite clearly.
By Alan Greenblatt | Governing
As is often the case in politics, the problem isn’t what’s illegal but what’s legal. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday makes it harder to distinguish the difference when it comes to public officials.
In a unanimous decision, the court threw out the corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who had accepted more than $175,000 in gifts and loans from Johnnie R. Williams Jr., the CEO of a dietary supplement company looking to do business with the commonwealth of Virginia. Although McDonnell made calls and set up meetings for him, the court ruled that these did not constitute “official acts” under federal statute and that the prosecution’s interpretation of bribery law was “boundless.”