“The McDonnell Case: the ‘Messages’ to Citizens”

More Bauer on McDonnell:

Zephyr Teachout has since written about the importance of the “principle” of bribery at stake in the case—the importance of “broadly” construing the “axiom that an official shouldn’t accept gifts for public duties.”  She is worried about “winking and nodding” and the sneaky stuff politicians might do.  In this respect, if broadly construed, Ms. Teachout takes the amorphousness of the legal standards to be a virtue.  She largely dismisses the fear that without careful attention to the clarity and focus of public corruption criminal law, the rules intended to control bad politics may become themselves too much a branch of politics.  She is less troubled by the potential for prosecutorial abuse than by a ruling that would “leave citizens facing a crisis of political corruption with even fewer tools to fight it.”

The McDonnell argument occurred shortly before former Alabama Governor Siegelman was put into solitary confinement. Incarcerated for having denied the citizens of his state his “honest services,” he apparently ran afoul of prison rules by selling a T-shirt on EBay.  It is reported that he was raising funds for a documentary to establish the political basis, as he sees it, of his prosecution.  He was trying to send a different “message to citizens.”



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