On Wednesday, April 27, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Robert F. McDonnell v. United States. The Court will review the public corruption convictions of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to determine whether the definition of “official action” as used in the federal bribery statute, Hobbs Act, and honest-services fraud statute is limited to exercising actual governmental power or the threat or pressure to do so. If the definition is not so limited, the Court will also consider whether the Hobbs Act and honest-services fraud statute are unconstitutional—given that such a broad definition could include political activity protected by the First Amendment. Listen in as our experts, Will Haun and Stephen Klein, who both attended the oral arguments, offer a summary and analysis to Federalist Society members.
The McDonnell case may have significant affects on campaign finance law as well. Stephen Klein, an attorney with the Pillar of Law Institute, will discuss how McDonnell's all-encompassing prosecution for corruption, or simply the appearance of corruption, could allow bribery and other criminal charges for cases that previously did not even call for civil enforcement by the Federal Election Commission or state elections agencies. This would put a serious chill on political engagement, which is at the core of free speech and association.