“Make prosecutors prove ‘quid pro quo’ in bribery cases”

Ted Olson and David Debold:

Columnist George F. Will recently wrote that “(u)ntil the Supreme Court clarifies what constitutes quid pro quo political corruption, Americans engage in politics at their peril because prosecutors have dangerous discretion to criminalize politics.” The danger is even greater than Will describes, and nothing illustrates it better than the plight of one of our clients.

Paul S. Minor, a highly successful trial lawyer in Mississippi, is serving an eight-year sentence for doing what the First Amendment scrupulously protects: supporting candidates for public office through contributions to their election campaigns. Minor’s case is a cautionary tale of how prosecutors can transform participation in the political process into a 20-year felony when courts do not require proof of an agreement to “exchange” campaign contributions for favorable official acts as a predicate for a corruption prosecution.

This is in line with my Slate piece today on the criminalization of politics.


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