I’m having the hardest time wrapping my arms around “gratuity” as a crime – that puts me in the good company of Dr. Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, according to the Daily Journal (h/t folo and deep bow to Dr. Wiseman for the laugh)
Longtime Mississippi political observer Dr. Marty Wiseman expressed surprise at the new charge, saying access is “the reason most people give political contributions” of any substance.
“If this is all there is,” he said, referring to the government’s case, “it’s kind of like the country song I Shaved My Legs for This?.”
I haven’t had my hair done (read the lyrics) but I had thought about going up and blogging the trial – but after the pleas, I’ve given more thought to the powerful and unique argument in former Governor Siegelman’s appeal.
Every President who has ever appointed a contributor as Ambassador to France, every Senator who has ever exercised the Senatorial prerogative of putting forward a nominee for the United States District Court after such person supported the Senator’s campaign, every Governor and state Legislator, every Mayor and City Council member throughout the nation, and indeed every constituent of every such person, needs to know here the line is drawn between politics and crime. And the line must not be subject to the whim of prosecutors.
For cases involving contributions rather than personal kickbacks or the like, the line should be drawn between cases where the proof establishes the existence of an explicit quid pro quo, and cases where it does not. Proof of an “explicit quid pro quo” in this sense requires much more than the mere existence of a contribution and an official action. It requires more, even, than inferences as to what the thoughts, wishes or expectations of the contributor and of the official were. It requires just what the phrase “explicit quid pro quo” implies: an explicit, which is to say an expressly communicated, statement or agreement that the contribution and the action were linked.
Certainly Siegelman’s case is different; but, the brief provides an overview of the issue that I found helpful enough to save the first argument as separate document. Wonder if Hiram Eastland’s phone has been ringing?