Monday, March 7, 2016
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone 812-232-2434; Fax 812-235-3685; [email protected]
Amicus Brief Seeking Constitutional Definition of Quid Pro Quo Corruption Filed In United States Supreme Court
Today, the James Madison Center for Free Speech filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court, urging it to establish a constitutional definition of quid pro quo corruption to ensure campaign discourse remains free and unfettered.
The case, McDonnell v. U.S., addresses whether two separate federal statutes–the Hobbs Act and the honest-services fraud statute–were violated when former Virginia Governor McDonnell's wife received lawful gifts and loans in alleged exchange for arranging meetings, making inquiries, and granting access to events. Both statutes, which address bribery and fraud, turn on whether quid pro quo corruption occurred.
This same criterion of quid pro quo corruption is the only standard that the United States Supreme Court has upheld to justify campaign finance regulations: laws that are designed to prevent quid pro quo corruption can be upheld.
Past Supreme Court precedent has found quid pro quo corruption when there is 1) an explicit arrangement 2) for the direct exchange of something of value for 3) a public official's improper promise or commitment that is 4) contrary to the obligations of his or her office 5) in an effort to control an official, sovereign act. This five-part definition keeps government investigations properly focused on actual abuses of government power, while protecting public officials who appropriately respond to voters that supported their candidacies and constituents that urge them to act in consistent with the official's campaign promises or the constituents' interests.
James Bopp, Jr., counsel for the Madison Center, observes “A proper understanding of what constitutes quid pro quo corruption is critical. Without it, campaign supporters will be chilled from participating in elections, as their support can be construed as buying outcomes. Candidates will be fearful of pledging to follow their own principles, leaving them unaccountable to voters. And public officials will decline to even visit with campaign supporters for fear that such access will be construed as corruption and subjecting them to investigation and criminal charges.” Says Bopp, “not only would politics be criminalized, but the entire election process as well. The propriety of official conduct will lay in the discretion of law enforcement, not in the will of the people.”
A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.
James Bopp, Jr. has a national constitutional law practice with The Bopp Law Firm, PC.
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