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Saturday, January 16, 2016

 

If McDonnell is sent to jail for corruption, should Hillary share his jail cell?



Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s conviction for corruption will be reviewed by the Supreme Court. McDonnell’s attorneys said in a court filing that: “Close relationships between business leaders, lobbyists and public officials are commonplace,” Mr. McDonnell argues that politicians routinely reward their donors and friends with access to themselves and other officials.

Allowing prosecutors to file criminal charges when a gift or donation can be connected to any action by a politician would “radically reshape politics in this nation, the filing said. If Gov. McDonnell can be imprisoned for giving routine access to a gift-giver, any official could equally be imprisoned for agreeing to answer a donor’s phone call about a policy issue.”

McDonnell and his wife got a $20,000 New York shopping spree for the first lady, a $6,000 Rolex watch for the governor, $25,000 to pay for their daughters’ weddings, and another $130,000 in gifts or loans.

In return, McDonnell is accused of (from the Wall Street Journal)
“…hosted a product launch for Anatabloc at the governor’s mansion, arranged meetings with state and university officials to discuss the product and passed along proposals regarding research into the supplement, which he told at least one official he was using himself, the government said.
From the Washington Post who vigorously applauded McDonnell’s trial and conviction.

McDonnell’s contributions, they said, came in the form of meetings arranged to connect Williams with state officials, a luncheon Williams was allowed to throw at the governor’s mansion to help launch the product and a guest list Williams was allowed to shape at mansion reception meant for health-care leaders.

Defense attorneys argued at trial that there was no evidence McDonnell even knew what Williams wanted. And what he did want — state-funded studies of the product, Anatabloc — he never got.

But Williams, who was granted immunity by prosecutors, testified that the governor always knew why he was being so generous with the McDonnell family.

Prosecutors built a strong circumstantial case. In one instance, McDonnell directed a subordinate to meet with Williams the same night he returned from a free vacation at the businessman’s lake house. In another, six minutes after emailing Williams about a loan, McDonnell emailed an aide about studies Williams wanted researchers at a public university to conduct on his product.

In a brief to the court, Noel J. Francisco, an attorney for McDonnell, said such “courtesies” were not the kind of official actions that the corruption laws contemplate. He said prosecutors never showed that McDonnell exercised any governmental power to help Williams or pressured others to do so.

“This is the first time in our history that a public official has been convicted of corruption despite never agreeing to put a thumb on the scales of any government decision,” he wrote.

McDonnell’s attorneys had compiled an impressive list of supporters to tell the court that his appeal raised important issues. Eleven groups filed amicus briefs, among them 66 former state attorneys general, 31 governors and a collection of former high-ranking federal officials, including a retired judge.


The government replied that the law does not require a showing of “pressure.” Nor does it matter that Williams did not get what he wanted, Verrilli wrote. “The failure of a bribery scheme does not make it lawful.”


The prosecution maintains that not putting pressure on agents to benefit a friend or benefactor doesn’t mean that the governor is not corrupt or has been bribed. As long as there us a “quid” there does not have to be a “pro quo.”


The focus of the trial and the media attention has always been on the gifts that Williams gave the McDonnells rather than what the McDonnells did for Williams. The things that Bob McDonnell actually did for Williams and his company are actually peanuts and hard to define as anything other than constituent service.

Is allowing the use of the Virginia governor’s mansion for an event for a Virginia company corrupt? If so, lots of Virginia governors need to join McDonnell in prison.

Is supporting the commercial interests of any company in the state, or the nation, by public officials corruption? Off to prison go virtually all office holders.

How about if the company made campaign contributions to the office holder, or gave a gift to the office holder or her private foundation?

Say you are the Secretary of State and the likely next President. And the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation accepts tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Algeria at the very time Hillary ran The State Department. Even ignoring the fact that the State Department had issues before it at the time these governments were so generous to the Clintons, anyone who does not see through the obvious fact that these were down-payments on future acts by Hillary Clinton is a credulous fool.

Why is the Supreme Court hearing this case?  It's possible that some of the justices beleive the case was without merit.  There is also the possibility that by raising the bar, they Court is making it harder to prosecute and convict the Clintons of corruption.

If Bob and Maureen McDonnell go to jail, justice demands that Bill and Hillary Clinton share the cell.

As a final note.  Bob and Maureen McDonnell were relatively poor when he ran for governor.  When offered gifts and loans to help them with money problems they took them rather than resisting the temptation and saying "no."  For that Bob McDonnell and his wife lost their marriage, their reputation and may end up in prison.  I don't beleive they committed a crime, but they fractured certain moral standards that - as Christians - they should have maintained.  It's a lesson for all of us who are tempted and fall.  

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