Va governor's bribery conviction should be overturned
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was convicted last year of honest services wire fraud, a vague law that the Supreme Court saved from constitutional challenge by redefining it to outlaw bribery and kickbacks by public officials. Unlike the standard anti-political bribery statute, 18 USC 201, honest services wire fraud covers misconduct by state officials. (There was already a federal law that typically applied to state officials, 18 USC 666--but no matter, the Supreme Court did what it did.) So Bob McDonnell was charged with the honest devices wire fraud, which required the government to prove that he corruptly accepted personal payments in exchange for his performance of an "official act." At trial, the government argued that the following acts were "official acts":
- Asking an aide a question about research pertaining to a businessman’s company.
- Attending two receptions the businessman attended.
- Arranging a meeting with his staff and the businessman and suggesting another meeting to an aide.