DOES EXISTING FEDERAL CRIMINAL LAW PREVENT LARGE CAMPAIGN DONATIONS?

LawReader Senior Editor Stan Billingsley    Oct. 8, 2011

 MSNBC Host Dylan Ratigan has started a campaign to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing campaign contributions to legislators.   The chances for such an amendment to pass with the required 2/3rds votes of the House and Senate are probably very unlikely.

 However, the U.S. Attorney General may already have existing statutory authority to examine the response of candidates for public office who receive large campaign contributions and then vote to support the interest of the donor.  

 We cite the language of Title l8 of the United States Code below which appears to be broad enough to impose criminal penalties upon the shoulders of any member of congress who accepts large campaign contributions in exchange for legislative support of the donor’s agenda..

 The federal statute says:

 “…being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:

 (A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;…”

 The courts have recognized the requirement that statutes be given an interpretation that enforces the plain and simply meaning of the statute.

“…text of the statute is used first, and it is read as it is written, using the ordinary meaning   of the words of the statute.”

U.S. Supreme Court: “[I]n interpreting a statute a court should always turn to one cardinal canon before all others. . . .[C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there.” Connecticut Nat’l Bank v. Germain, 112 S. Ct. 1146, 1149 (1992). Indeed, “when the words of a statute are unambiguous, then, this first canon is also the last: ‘judicial inquiry is complete.’” 503 U.S. 249, 254″

The following statute imposes even campaign gifts to third party entities, and not just personal gifts to the candidate.

 UNITED STATES CODE

 TITLE 18 – CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

PART I – CRIMES

CHAPTER 11 – BRIBERY, GRAFT, AND CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

         Sec. 201. Bribery of public officials and witnesses

         (a) For the purpose of this section -

        (1) the term “public official” means Member of Congress,

      Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, either before or after such

      official has qualified, or an officer or employee or person

      acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department,

      agency or branch of Government thereof, including the District of

      Columbia, in any official function, under or by authority of any

      such department, agency, or branch of Government, or a juror;

        (2) the term “person who has been selected to be a public

      official” means any person who has been nominated or appointed to

      be a public official, or has been officially informed that such

      person will be so nominated or appointed; and

        (3) the term “official act” means any decision or action on any question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding or controversy, which may at any time be pending, or which may by law be brought before any public official, in such official’s official capacity, or in such official’s place of trust or profit.

       (b) Whoever – (1) directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offers or promises any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent –

                (A) to influence any official act; or

          (B) to influence such public official or person who has been

        selected to be a public official to commit or aid in

        committing, or collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make

        opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United

        States; or

          (C) to induce such public official or such person who has

        been selected to be a public official to do or omit to do any

        act in violation of the lawful duty of such official or person;

         (2) being a public official or person selected to be a public

      official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks,

      receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return

for:

          (A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;

Comments are closed.